Julie Anne Smith used to attend Beaverton Grace Bible Church in Oregon. After her family left, other church members began to shun her — it was as if the pastor told them all to avoid the Smiths at all costs.
How did Pastor Charles (Chuck) O’Neal respond? With forgiveness? With an apology for her bad experience?
Nah. He’s suing her for $500,000:
… the pastor claims in the lawsuit he filed that her words, “creepy,” “cult,” “control tactics,” and “spiritual abuse,” are defamation.
The lawsuit didn’t just target Smith. Her daughter and three other commenters are also being sued.
“He can say what he wants in the church and say, don’t talk about this or don’t talk about that, or don’t talk to this person, but when you’re out in the civil world, you don’t do that anymore,” Smith said. “And he’s not my pastor anymore. He does not have that right to keep people from talking.”
The Smiths filed a special free speech motion to dismiss the lawsuit. It goes before a judge later this month.
The Streisand Effect is in full force since the media’s taken notice:
Neither the pastor, the pastor’s wife, nor his attorney wanted to speak with the press. Because, you know, they don’t want any negative attention…
Interestingly enough, in the few days since the story went public, the church has gotten multiple 1-star reviews on the Google and DexKnows websites 🙂
The way Pastor O’Neal’s handled all this just goes to show Smith was right to point out the “control tactics” in the church. They can’t handle honest criticism — it messes with the whole “let’s brainwash our congregation” thing.
So where are all the people who attend the church? Why aren’t they speaking out? Even if they like the church, do they support this frivolous lawsuit? Or are they just keeping silent so they don’t piss off this pastor-dictator?