Beaverton Grace Bible Church pastor sues former parishioner for Google reviews

Chuck O’Neal, pastor of Beaverton Grace Bible Church in Oregon will be learning what the Streisand Effect is.

About 20 news outlets have picked up this story. Today…want to hazard a guess? 200? It’s on Reddit. Fark. Christian bloggers are understandably all over it. KATU:

A church pastor is suing a mother and daughter for $500,000 because they gave the church bad reviews online.

The family being sued left the church a few years ago and Julie Anne Smith says she and her family were shunned and couldn’t understand why. So she went online and wrote Google and DEX reviews of the church and then started a blog.

“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?”

Never did she think Beaverton Grace Bible Church and Pastor Charles O’Neal would slap her with the lawsuit.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom. I teach my kids at home, and this is just not the amount of money that normal moms have.”

When the family left the church, Smith says friends were told to end all contact with her.

“If I went to Costco or any place in town, if I ran into somebody, they would turn their heads and walk the other way,” she said. “All we did was asked questions. We just raised concerns. There’s no sin in that.”

Dissatisfied, she went online to write reviews. Other church members counteracted them with church praise. So Smith started a blog called “Beaverton Grace Bible Church Survivors.”

But the pastor claims in the lawsuit he filed that her words, “creepy,” “cult,” “control tactics,” and “spiritual abuse,” are defamation.

You have to be kidding me, reviews on Google are not on the top of everyone’s reading list, let alone reviews of a church which were put up two years ago. Now, news of Chuck O’Neal’s unpastorly and hypocritical behavior has gone world wide. Three days after starting the blog, Julie Anne was sued by Chuck, along with her daughter and two other former members.

What lawyer wouldn’t want to defend Julie Anne? Her lawyer filed a motion to dismiss in April and it goes to a judge May 21st.   Chuck still doesn’t get it.  He amended his lawsuit the first week of May, adding another person and again claiming defamation.  Needless to say the Google reviews on his church are multiplying, and those reviews are not in favour of pastor Chuck and Beaverton Grace Bible Church.

One of the weirder things about Chucks decision making process is his love of Rev. John MacArthur. Rather than associate and consult with pastors in his area,  Chuck phoned MacArthur’s church and was counselled by one of MacArthers staff pastors to sue.  Chuck’s explanation:

DEFAMATION IS A CRIME: Pastor Chuck O’ Neal, his wife, his children, and Beaverton Grace Bible Church as a whole, have suffered JulieAnne’s hateful lying slander for well over three years. After seeking counsel from a pastor on staff with Grace Community Church (under Pastor John MacArthur) and reading him several excerpts from JulieAnne’s endless defamation, he recommended that we FILE A LAWSUIT in an appeal to Ceasar as the Apostle Paul did when falsely accused of crimes against God and the state. The lawsuit has been filed in the Washington County courthouse. 

Opps. MacArthur is a mega-celebrity in Calvinist circles, and image matters.  The staff man that egged Chuck on is going to have some explaining to do.

Perhaps Chuck O’Neal is burned out, and dreams of winning a lawsuit may be too good to pass up. O’Neals lawyers need to sit him down and give him a definition of defamation and slander 101, but if that hasn’t happened by now, it’s not going to.  O’Neal’s behavior is merely proving Julie Anne’s wisdom in pointing out the problems with authoritarianism. There is a great deal of difference between criticism and slander.

There are ministers who take serious abuse from parishioners, and even life threatening abuse, through no fault of their own. Chuck’s authoritarianism is drearily self-defeating.

Why hasn’t someone from MacArthur’s church called him up, heard him out and counselled Chuck to let go?  Beaverton Grace Bible Church doesn’t believe in mental health counselling, as more comes out, a portrait of a standard control freak emerges. It’s unlikely  anyone will get through to him before the Streisand effect kicks into full gear.

There is an up side to suing Julie Anne and four others. Former Beaverton Grace Bible Church members who were disciplined, kicked out and shunned are finding her blog, and a safe place to discuss spiritual abuse.

Interesting post from July 2011, where Chuck O’Neal creeps out a Jewish family with his door to door evangelizing.

Update: via: The Wartburg Watch Phil Johnson, an elder Grace Community Church has responded to Chuck O’Neals claim that one of the staff pastors told him to sue. It appears no one at John MacArthur’s church has talked to O’Neal, like many others, they can’t reach him.

“In a story currently circulating on the Internet, a claim is being made that the elders of Grace Community Church (John MacArthur, Pastor) advised a church in another state to file a defamation lawsuit against a former member.

For the record, we would not approve of such a lawsuit, for multiple reasons.

‘First, Scripture expressly teaches that it is better to be defrauded than to take a fellow Christian to court: “Does any one of you, when he has a case against his neighbor, dare to go to law before the unrighteous and not before the saints? . . . It is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?” (1 Corinthians 6:7). Here is what John MacArthur says about that passage:

Christians who take fellow Christians to court lose spiritually before the case is heard. The fact that they have lawsuits at all is a sign of moral and spiritual defeat (hettema, a word used of defeat in court). A believer who takes a fellow believer to court for any reason always loses the case in God’s sight. He has already suffered a spiritual defeat. He is selfish, and he discredits the power, wisdom, and work of God, when he tries to get what he wants through the judgment of unbelievers.

The right attitude of a Christian is to rather be wronged, to rather be defrauded, than to sue a fellow Christian. It is far better to lose financially than to lose spiritually. Even when we are clearly in the legal right, we do not have the moral and spiritual right to insist on our legal right in a public court. . . .

. . . If we cannot convince the brother to make things right, and if he will not listen to fellow believers, we are better off to suffer the loss or the injustice than to bring a lawsuit against him. “Do not resist him who is evil,” Jesus commanded, “but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone wants to sue you, and take your shirt, let him have your coat also” (Matt. 5:39-40). Contrary to the world’s standard, it is better to be sued and lose than to sue and win. Spiritually, it is impossible for a Christian to sue and win. When we are deprived wrongfully we are to cast ourselves on the care of God, who is able to work that for our good and His glory. [The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Corinthians (Chicago: Moody, 1984), 139-40.]

Second, Jesus was very clear about what Christians should do even when we are vilified by unbelievers: “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad” (Matthew 5:11-12). “Do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also” (vv. 39-40).’

That is our official position, and it is not merely theoretical. Having been at times targets of malicious slander in various gossip-forums on the Internet, we do appreciate the frustration of dealing with relentless character assassination.

But the example we were given to follow by Christ Himself deals with exactly such situations: “While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:23).”

Phil Johnson – Elder, Grace Community Church

Update: Phil Johnson has been in touch with Julie and and the pastor who is suing her – Pastor Chuck O’Neal issued a very long statement which can be found here.

Update: The O’Neal/Beaverton lawyer dropped one of the defendants in the suit. The next hearing is July 21st.

Update: Chuck O’Neal defamation suit tossed

About Bene Diction

Have courage for the great sorrows, And patience for the small ones. And when you have laboriously accomplished your tasks, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.
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29 Responses to Beaverton Grace Bible Church pastor sues former parishioner for Google reviews

  1. Mark Byron says:

    What part of “grace” don’t they get? It’s almost like the rule of thumb on countries; the more modifiers in a country’s name, the less they live up to them.

  2. This is hilarious – the pastor is a complete idiot! I can just see what a laughingstock he is going to be on Jay Leno and SNL.

    Bravo for Smith – she has every right to her opinions and to stand up to her ex-pastor. I predict that this pastor’s lawsuit is going to be dismissed real quick by a judge. Like it or not preacher, we still have freedom of speech in the USA.

  3. The Lord Ben Chung says:

    “Grace” in my fundamentalist background meant, the undeserving kindness from God. Certainly, these folks do not deserve God’s kindness, so they will also not show that to others, truly a biblical response. To do unto others what you would do for yourselves. Rock on, Gracie Church! Rock on, Minister-Parasite ONeil! If you have times on your hands, go tend the sheep and raise real chickens. Amen. Amen. Um, if there is a god out there, come and settle this once and for all. Amen to that. Thus saith the Lord, I meant, the Lord Ben Chung.

  4. fjc says:

    Are the church members so stupid that they actually obey this nut case of a Pastor when he instructs them not to have any contact with someone that he has instructed them not to?

    When I read articles like this it just reinforces in my mind just how dangerous and controlling fundamentalism in religion -any religion-can be.

    I think back to the evangelical minister who married us. He was the typical bully and control freak. He interviewed us and we left his office vowing that if we ever had children they would not be brought up in an evangelical setting. And they were not.
    I think the only reason he agreed to marry us was because after an hour of his carry on I told him we had to, we needed a decision, and if he did not marry us we would go to the Presbyterian church two blocks away. That ended the conversation and he agreed to do it. That was over 35 years ago but some of these ‘nutters’ are still around.

  5. Diana K. Stooshnov says:

    I believe strongly that no pastor should be doing anything including witnessing with a teenage boy. There should be policies in place that they are not alone with them. Just my personal opinion based on my past experience. Just another excuse, irrefutable, to be alone. How could anyone question the good work of the Lord, by teaching the young how to witness? A red flag….goes up in my mind.

  6. fjc says:

    Lets get this right.

    People who go door to do evangelizing or whatever for any faith are not doing it for the poor victims who answer the door.

    They are going door to door to feed their own needs, salve their own conscience, or to get some sort of odd gratification of being rejected by people who are in the middle of their busy lives and resent someone questioning their faith-whatever it may be.

  7. cricket says:

    When are the Christian fundamentalists going to get it? Don’t they know they are no different then the extremists in Islam or Scientology or any other religion/sect/cult? No different than the very people they revile and criticize and send their army over to destroy? Oh – not to forget that the misogynitic point of view doesn’t sit well with most thinking people. No wonder so many of us have left the church. All we have left is God (who is not a misogynist) and that is enough.

  8. bill c says:

    local branch,
    certainly not head office policy
    i hope….
    agree with cricket….

  9. Marina says:

    Hypocrite Pastor Chuck O’Neal can dish it out but he sure can’t take it. Listen to his sermon entitled, “The Embattled Gospel – popery” where he says as the thesis of his sermon, “There has been no more successful entity, no more successful ‘force of darkness’ against the church than that of Roman Catholicism.” Ouch. That’s gotta be worth a suit.

  10. fjc says:

    That is exactly why so many ‘Christians’ seem to be able to spot discrimination against their faith.

    Because so many of their faith leaders practice it, they know it when they see it.

    How would you like your children to grow up in a church environment like this??? One that teaches hate and discrimination. Gotta shake your head.

  11. Bene Diction says:

    The 1/2 million dollars is about intimidation and speech chill. I can’t see this going to trial.
    There seem to be a subset of men who walk around undiagnosed and untreated from some organic illness or ABI or mental illness or something which goes beyond wilful moral blindness and such an acute lack of self and other awareness. Churches are a logical place for them to lord it over others.

    Beaverton Grace Bible Church voice mail is full.:^)

  12. fjc says:

    You have to wonder what kind of educational institution or institutions produced a Pastor like this. And how many more of them are running around and shoving their brand of ‘faith’ down the throats of their church members and even worse the young people.

    It is exactly behavior like this that turns people away from church and from faith.

  13. VanPastorMan says:

    The only place in Scripture I find for believers to cut off all contact to former members would be in the area of sexual immorality.
    1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

  14. VanPastorMan says:

    Also the other areas listed in the verse above. I hit send before writing everything I wanted to say. Oops.

  15. Pingback: Pastor Makes International News by Suing Blogging Critic-Is John MacArthur’s Church Involved? | The Wartburg Watch

  16. Bene D says:

    Chuck O’Neal has a psychology degree from what was Western Baptist Bible College, and is now Corban University. It’s quite small, and it’s accredited.

    It’s been said people study psych to learn about themselves.
    Don’t think it took with Chuck.

    Australia, UK, have picked this story up as well as UPI, Fox, ABC…
    There are 127 Google reviews, and 3 pages of blogs on Google.

    Futuristguy has been keeping an eye on aggregators, Twitter and FB, and lists his findings in the comment section at The Wartburg Watch.

  17. evil is evil says:

    “There has been no more successful entity, no more successful ‘force of darkness’ against the church than that of Roman Catholicism.”

    Now, if I can just get his email address and point out to him that 6 out of 9 Supreme Joke justices are catholic.

    That ought to bunch up his undershorts for a while.

  18. Paula says:

    Did anyone catch a screenshot of the place where O’Neal claimed Macarthur’s church told him to do this?

    Because his review doesn’t seem to have that anymore.

  19. fjc says:

    Perhaps I have missed it, but I am more that a little surprised that other faith leaders have not spoken out about this, or about Mr. O’Neal’s ministry.

    Perhaps they will do it from the pulpit.

    Perhaps not.

  20. Bene D says:

    Paula:

    Here is the review saved by several people.

    http://tinyurl.com/73ubjtj

  21. The Lord Ben Chung says:

    Thus saith the Lord, even as I speaketh, so saith the Lord:

    A day will come, so saith the Lord thy god, that O’Neil, my bond slave, whom I have made with mine own hands, has done wicked things, so thou shall be rebuked, and punished by the Lord thy god, and thou art no longer the apple of mine eyes, so saith the Lord, rather I will spit thee out of mine mouth. The day so cometh, that they that speaketh of thee shall shake their heads and laugh. Thou shall be the laugh-stock of the nations.

    Behold, I have set thee up as the morning star, and thou saith in thine heart, I will set my throne in the Beaverton Church, I will rise, and I will place my throne above the seat of god, and within the assemblies of gods I will set forth righteous judgement. Behold, I perceive thee in thine wickedness and so the day will come, even it is now, that the Lord will spit thee out of his mouth, and though thou art the bright and the morning star, thou shall fall like the fallen cedar tree of Lebanon. They that behold thee when thou descendeth to the shoel, shall come before thee, with much fear and trembling and say unto thee, “Whence cometh thou, o prince of the Beaverton Church? Art thou mortal?”

    A days cometh so saith the Lord, that O’Neil lays in want and rejected by the company of men.

    Thus saith the Lord, the Lord Ben Chung. Amen.

  22. The Lord Ben Chung says:

    The biblical response to O’Neil is “Aha! Aha! thou art my god, thou has kept me warm. ” Thus this piece of ‘wood’ on one end warms the person by night, and the other end is fashioned into a god, that this man worships. Aha! Ah-ha!

  23. rick says:

    To the lord Ben Chung,
    Which of your meds. have you failed to take lately?
    Time to get back on the program.

  24. The Lord Ben Chung says:

    Ah-Ha! Mine is from the Reader’s Digest! Ah-Ha!! Thou art god! Thou art my god!!

  25. Bene Diction says:

    rick:

    Play nice. Sarcastic insults are unnecessary. See the about page.

  26. This whole fiasco has raised the awareness of spiritual abuse in the local church, big time!!! Maybe a lot more people will be paying attention to what it is and how they can help.

    It is out there, it is harmful, and it is damaging! Let’s continue to raise the awareness.

    There are a number of people on the internet adding their voice to this issue.

    From one voice: http://www.ChurchExters.com

  27. Pingback: But I Tell You, Resist A Censor. If Anyone SLAPPs You, SLAPP Back. | Popehat

  28. fjc says:

    It has always been a mystery to me some people take every word, every opinion, every interpretation, and every direction from their Pastor or leadership team as an absolute truth. Not questioning or independently validating their words, their motives, etc. is an absolute recipe for personal disaster and unhappiness.

    Is it the fear of loosing a community that drives them to act in a manner that absolutely defies logic?

    It is also a mystery to me why some of these ‘nut bars’ get hired in the first place, and once hired how they keep their jobs for any length of time.

  29. Pingback: Beaverton Grace Bible Church loses court case against blogger | Bene Diction Blogs On

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