Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Lawsuit

Sorry, my cat must have gotten the top of it.  This is the last page of the summons.

When I got home from taking my daughter to volleyball practice the other night, my husband told me that a person knocked at the door and hand-delivered some papers that he had to sign for.  I was handed a pile of legal-looking papers.  I want to inform my readers that Chuck O'Neal and Beaverton Grace Bible Church have filed a legal suit against me and 3 others for defamation with damages to the tune of $500,000.  The summary outlines snippets of quotes from review sites and blog comments.

Obviously it’s not every day that one is sued.  And it’s not very often that I deal with a dollar amount that has so many zeros behind it, but I had some initial thoughts regarding the summons. I first laughed at the absurdity of the whole thing (this seems to be a popular response). 

I also noticed a common phrase in my thoughts:  “what kind of pastor”.

What kind of pastor files lawsuits against Christians?   

Mary Fairchild writes an article for About.com on this topic of Christians suing here:  Should Christians Sue in Court .  Below we find Scripture dealing with this subject:
New International Version (NIV)
1 Corinthians 6
Lawsuits Among Believers
 1 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? 2 Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? 3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! 4 Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 5 I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 6 But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!
 7 The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 8 Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.

What kind of pastor files lawsuits, period?

What kind of pastor asks for exorbitant amounts of money from families/young adults on limited incomes?

Christians expect pastors to be examples of Christian character, modeling appropriate ways of dealing with conflict, bringing in other people when things get difficult to resolve.  We expect pastors to be able to take criticism and be able to answer questions.  We do not expect pastors to retaliate if they are asked questions or are criticized.  

This lawsuit is frustrating and also makes me sad.   I agree with scripture's process on the handling of disputes and keeping them out of court.  However, it seems this pastor has not chosen to go that route and has instead sued me in the civil court system.  Going to court against another Believer never would have been an option for me.  However, I now have no choice.  I am obligated to respond by obtaining legal counsel or else the case will rule in favor of Chuck O'Neal and the church, including the award of $500,000 in damages.

I think there is a bigger battle going on and it is not mine, but the Lord's.  If there is something I have done wrong in this, I do pray that I would be able to hear His voice. However, I remain confident that God's hand is in this.  He knows this situation and knows my heart.  This is His battle and I am His vessel.  I have nothing to fear.



46 comments:

  1. Sorry to hear it has come to this. I will be in prayer for you and for the case.

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    1. I couldn't find how to comment anywhere else, but I wanted to let you know that my friend shared this story with me on fb and my comment to her is at the end of this... I am outraged over this and will do anything I can to help! We will be covering you in prayer! And, don't you worry for a second because as I told my friend on fb... God has made it obvious He has chosen a side and it isn't theirs no matter what the outcome in the courtroom is! It is time that people (true Christians) stand up against controlling religious churches!

      my response to the initial shock, "FIGURES!!! Of all the places to be reviewed, a church has to sue! Secular companies allow others to have voices and opinions even if they are negative, but of course not a church! Because they try to be fake and hide and pretend to be all perfect and cover up and they're afraid of people having voices or opinions! It's ridiculous! The law suite proves that she was obviously accurate in her review that they use control and scare tactics! I HATE how religious people think they can just take others' voices away! She is entitled to her own opinions and she has every right to share them and if she were to lose, proving she doesn't have every right, then our country is way worse than I ever thought! If they truly trust God and believe His Word then they should live by it and suing is definitely not the proper way to handle this! And, by suing her, they actually helped spread her truth further to a larger audience just as the Bible says will happen so it looks like God is definitely on a side and isn't theirs! And, even the scripture they are standing on to sue is twisted! Paul didn't sue! He appealed to defend himself! He wasn't the instigator who drug it into the courtroom!"

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    2. Jessica! I had to laugh out loud because it seems to obvious, doesn't it? I mean the whole thing is ridiculous! I'm not worried one bit. So I left a negative review. Big deal. :)

      Thanks for stopping by and for the comment. I appreciate it!

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    3. Get a life people...live & let live

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  2. one word, wolves

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    1. Wolves? I have the sudden urge to howl when I read that word. I think I shall: owww, owww, owwwwwwwwwwwwwwww :)

      I've always been weird like that. Just ask my kids - lol.

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  3. I like your attitude because you are exposing the truth without demonstrating anger and bitterness.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. Truth be told, there are a lot of emotions when dealing with something like this. Of course there have been bouts of anger, but the reality is that it really is not my battle.

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  4. I would think someone or someone's in his limited congregation would pick up the scriptures and search them out for the truth, and also to read thier desired study bible notes to see if thier "pastor" is seeking Gods truth, or just possibly his own sordid gain! Makes you wonder,where are the Berean's?

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    1. Being a Berean can sometimes come with a cost - either broken relationships or a $500,000 price tag. Some are not willing to take that on.

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  5. How can there be a "pastor" for any said church, etc. if one can not "produce the body" of the so-called "founder".

    Habeas corpus--"may you have the body"

    Didn't a voice from "god", or whatever, whisper in your ear telling you to write about this?

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  6. Hey everyone in the country should comment on the blog and say "Way to go" showing the world the "benefit" of religion...maybe he could sue 200,000,000 United States Citizens for a dollar each? Seems like all he wants is money!!

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  7. You should open up a legal defense fund and have readers contribute to your defense.

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  8. At least in the US, they have a high bar to meet. Be glad you are not in the UK - their defamation laws lean much more towards the plaintiff. I second creating a legal defense fund. Even though the charges are crazy, they are also serious and require serious defense.

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  9. Beaverton Grace Bible Church definitely sounds like a cult. They certainly do not act like Christians. Keep fighting the good fight.

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  10. It's Like the Pope trying to sue Martin Luther.

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  11. Beaverton Grace Bible Church appear to have a creepy, cultish pastor who demonstrates with his lawsuit that he is a control freak, employing control tactics that could be considered spiritual abuse.

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  12. The thought that your former pastor holds sway over people says plenty. Blind loyalty is definitely behavior symptomatic of the programming function of cults, so it appears the church's followers, in responding so vehemently to your initial criticism, may have inadvertently given weight to your position.

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  13. I would really like to encourage you in this matter. This is vastly inappropriate behavior for a person in a position of power. Fight it. Fight it all the way.

    Not only is it inappropriate to sue someone--and so exorbitantly--over a strong negative opinion informally expressed, but going earlier than that, it is inappropriate for a pastor to rile a congregation into shunning a former member, it is inappropriate even to try to do so, and finally it is alarming that the nature of the congregation is such that he is able to gather them and use them like a weapon so concertedly.

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    1. Jared - I'm late in responding - somehow I missed this thread of comments. Your last sentence really struck me. Wow! That is exactly what is going on. And sadly, they don't realize it.

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  14. Thank you for taking a stand on Churches like this, I find your courage amazing and encouraging! I only wish more people thought like you! :)

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    1. I think sometimes it takes a tragic situation to compel someone speak out. I had had enough of it. Thank you for your support!

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  15. Interesting Pastor. I'm pagan and can't imagine someone filing a law suit against me for speaking my mind. In fact, every group I've participated in embraces varied opinions.

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  16. Daithí Mac LochlainnMay 16, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    How stupid!

    I'm Catholic and wonder what Rev'd O'Neal would say about my Faith.

    This is America and he is free to call my Church a cult if he so pleases.

    One the other hand if Catholics sued everytime we're called a "cult", our parishes could scrap bingo!

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    1. He definitely does speak out against Catholicism and many other religions and religious teachers. You can find blogs/sermons on the church website.

      That is the irony of this. It's okay for him to call out other religions as a cult, but I'm not allowed to say my mind. Interesting how that works, huh?

      Thanks for your comment, Daithi.

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  17. countersue for emotional damages

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  18. My prayers go out to you. I hope that the pastor (Chuck O'Neal) and the church will drop this lawsuit after much prayer and reflection. Psalm 1.

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    1. Many people have told me they have sent e-mail asking him to do this. I've had no e-mails or phone calls from my attorney, so I'm pretty sure the lawsuit will continue.

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  19. It would appear that you were correct in your review. Only a fraud with such insecurities would react this way.

    -E

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  20. Control is the name of the game here and God bless your efforts to stand for truth Justice and free speach ( friends don't let friends drink kool aid)

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  21. Hundreds of negative reviews about this church will now be posted. People will openly mock this church and make fun of it all over the internet..

    You're gonna win and the church will be humiliated in every way.

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    1. Someone alerted me last night that the review count was still growing. You are right. The whole thing is sad :(

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  22. You're entitled to your opinion. I hope you win. This whole situation makes me very happy to be an atheist.

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    1. I've had a lot of support from the atheist community. I do appreciate it. But I also hope that through all of this messiness that while there are leaders who use their position inappropriately and leave a bad name for Christ, there are many who are quietly and humbly leading their congregation with grace and love.

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  23. Replies
    1. Jonathan - I oopsed and deleted your comment. So sorry! Feel free to post it again. I was able to read it before my error.

      I'm sorry to hear of your experiences in the Jehovah's Witnesses church. I've had other readers tell me similar stories and there are countless readers who have commented that it is because of their experience in church - abusive experience - that they no longer have any part of church. That really makes me sad and angry. That is not right. Those people who were leading did not represent Christ in any way. I think God is using this lawsuit as a platform for me to tell the church: quit abusing your people!!

      I know that there are emotional scars when involved in such a church. Keep reading, Jonathan. You may identify with a lot of it. And I sure hope someone comes along your path who correctly reflects Christ to you and you can see a true meaning of Christianity.

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  24. julie. GOOD FOR YOU! these churches are the ones leading the people to hell... we are supose to ask questions... as it states in 2 Timothy 2:15

    (KJV)



    15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.



    the SAME THING started my Quest for the truth!! im going to post some info to the truths that i found. its only info for those that truly seek the Father. (these are the once that will research themselves and not dismiss because of what they have been taught traditionally through these churches)i encourage anyone to RESEARCH themselves ALL info that i provide. use of course your bible, a dictionary, the concordances, encyclopedia, and atlas if need be....



    also for the preacher man (or what i like to call them) the PIMP in the PULPIT!

    Romans 3:4



    King James Version (KJV)



    4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged



    and for the pimp in the pulpit that says we are under grace and we are no longer under the old laws.. but yet they want to cherry pick tithing...

    For those that are confused on the tithing issue that the pastors make people feel guilty about.... maybe this will shed some in site.. Shalom....



    Anybody looking for "TITHING" raises an EYEBROW! now that i am in truth... pastors ALWAYS misuse the malachi verse to scam people out they;re money.. I'm sorry to say that those verses in Malachi 3:8-10 are one of the most misused verses in Scripture today. Every Sunday across the nation pastors use this verse to exploit the wage earners and widows and orphans. But as it says in verse 5 God will judge them on this. Chapter 3 of Malachi is talking about the Levites and the other 11 tribes of Israel. It was talking about fruits and meat that was to go to the Levites who where the priest and who was in charge of taking care of the Temple in Jerusalem and doing the sacrificial offerings of the Most High. This can be verified in Dueteronomy 18: 1-5. God does not need or want our money, He never has. The tithes were the firstfruits and animals were to go to the Levites and some of that was used as a sin offering to God for the people and some was givin to the Levites to eat as it says in Deuteronomy 18:1. 'NOWHERE ARE WE INSTRUCTED TO GIVE OUR MONEY TO ANY MAN OR CHURCH" the thing that was "nailed" to the cross was the law of "old sacrifice" in that Yahoshua (j*sus) died for our since so it would be unlawful for us to do burnt offerings because he was the ultimate sacrifice... RESEARCH you are being misled!!!

    all a person needs to do is watch this video.. then compare what goes on in the church compared to the word (holy bible)and see if the man/building does this accordingly to the book! Traditions is whats going to send people to hell... most churches do not follow the bible.. this is where religion comes in.... Yahoshua (j*sus) did not say that he came to start a "Religion" he said that he came to show us how to live by the laws. in that he did not come to destroy the "LAWS" but to fulfill them!!!



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d4O5NW_VvnM

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  25. Julie,
    Sorry you are the one having to go through this but I'm afraid the writing was on the wall. Who do you think you are to question an all-powerful pastor chosen by God himself to lead his flock?

    Religion - just say no.

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  26. I think you were totally within your rights to create this blog and it sounds like the pastor was never doing his job properly. He should learn to take constructive criticism and not sue anybody who disagrees with him. I hope you win the case - also I think you should be compensated for the trouble you've been put through.

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  27. I'd just like to tell you I hope you win. To be honest, it doesn't matter if your accusations were correct or not (though a curosry examination of the 'church' webstie suggests they may well be), this lawsuit is a slap in the face first amendment. Good luck.

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  28. I hope the church doesn't follow through with this SLAPP; or, if it does, it gets thrown out or ruled in your favour.

    Yes, even us in Canada are standing for you. Good luck, even though you don't really need it; you're definitely in the right here.

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