A mom and her daughter, who once attended the Beaverton Grace Bible Church in Oregon, are being sued by the pastor for a blog review that was considered a defamation.
Pastor Chuck O’Neal is seeking $500,000 in damages for the review in a suit against Julie Anne Smith for writing the blog that called the church “cult-like,” and “creepy,” as well as her daughter and three other’s who contributed comments to the blog.
Smith wrote, “the story of spiritual abuse needs to be told,” as Pator O’Neal would use “control tactics” on members of the church, she also stated that the elders of the church should search the closets of its female congregants for clothes that are too revealing.
Smith claims to KATU.com after deciding not to attend the church anymore a few years ago, that community members in Beaverton shunned her and her family for leaving. She also explained that she writes reviews of other businesses, like restaurants and hotels, so she figured why not the church.
“I thought, I’m just going to post a review,” Smith said. “We do it with restaurants and hotels and whatnot, and I thought, why not do it with this church?” she added.
Meanwhile O’Neal claims that the use of words like “creepy,” “cult,” and “spiritual abuse” are forms of defamation against himself and his church.
Smith believes she should be protected under the rights of free speech for what she and the others wrote about the church.
“What somebody does in the church is one thing, but when you get out into society we have the right to free speech, and it may not be what people want to hear, but we absolutely have that right,” she told the website.
Adding, “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 … And he’s not my pastor anymore. He does not have that right to keep people from talking.”