Monday, May 14, 2012

Church Sues For Negative Reviews

When Julie Anne Smith and her family severed ties with the Beaverton Grace Bible Church a few years ago, she said, former friends acted like the Oregon mother and her family were complete strangers.
“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,” Smith told ABC affiliate KATU-TV in Portland.  “All we did was asked questions. We just raised concerns. There’s no sin in that.”
Smith may have lost her former friends, but she said she never imagined she and her daughter be hit with a $500,000 lawsuit for defamation for speaking her mind on the Internet. Three other commenters who criticized the church were also named in the suit.
“You will be fine at this church if you never question the elders or pastor,” Smith wrote on  Sept. 29, 2011, one of many online reviews she wrote critical of the church, according to court documents.
The comments given in the article don't show anything that seems over the line of free speech and opinion.  There were no accusations of criminal behavior or grossly twisted facts that amount to a smear campaign.  In fact, the controlling behavior she describes (the word "cult" was never used but fits the bill nicely) is creepy.  It's also completely in line with some cult-churches I have witnessed.

To sue her for such an inflated amount, not even to remove the comments, demonstrates a punitive and controlling nature.  I wish her the best of luck, but nowadays common sense is not the rule.  Follow-ups coming as they are released.

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