"...When He [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd." Matt 9:36

"Do not rob the poor, because he is poor... for the Lord will take up their case and plunder those who plunder them." Proverbs 22:22-23

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Readers, Please Donate to the BGBC Defense Fund - Two Days Before Anti-SLAPP Hearing in BGBC Case

This Friday an important court hearing in Oregon will take place in the pastor Chuck O'Neal slander lawsuit. As I've discussed here on this blog, O'Neal is the pastor of Beaverton Grace Bible Church who has filed a $500,000 slander lawsuit against former church member Julie Anne Smith and others who dared to publicly criticize O'Neal and his church.

Friday's hearing will be for the judge to rule on Julie Anne's "anti-SLAPP" motion filed to dismiss O'Neal's ridiculous lawsuit. "SLAPP" is short for "strategic lawsuit against public participation" - meaning a defamation lawsuit designed to silence a critic by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense. In response to an increase in SLAPP's filed in the 1990's harming free speech, some states have created an "Anti-SLAPP" legal defense, which when exercised by a defendant, the plaintiff has a high burden to prove their case has merit else the judge must dismiss the lawsuit.
 
As this important hearing approaches, I wanted to encourage readers to consider making a contribution to the BGBC Survivors Legal Defense Fund by clicking below:


It is extremely important that we come to the aid of Julie Anne Smith and others who have been sued by their former pastor, Chuck O'Neal, for daring to use social media to raise awareness of what they consider to be a spiritually abusive pastor and church. Julie Anne faces mounting legal bills, and so do other defendants in this lawsuit - some have thousands of dollars of legal fees simply because O'Neal and BGBC decide to sue them but then later modified the complaint and dropped those defendants from the suit. Oh, the love of a pastor that sues and then drops the charges against the sheep.

Since blogging arrived on the scene as a powerful force for Christian expression in 2005 and 2006, much opposition has arisen against those daring to speak up against preachers and denominational leaders. We can go back to the brutal attempts by IMB leadership to silence and discredit Wade Burleson in 2006, to Ergun Caner's sermon at the Georgia State Evangelism Conference in 2007 bashing bloggers, to Jerry Vines' spitting on anonymous emails at the 2007 Pastor's Conference. In the fall of 2007 the Georgia Baptist Convention passed their "Resolution on Blogging", and then the following year a Jacksonville police detective who also conveniently served on his church's discipline committee used subpoenas to find the author of this blog, and when sued the state attorney's office conveniently lost all the associated paperwork which may have justified pulling investigative subpoenas. Next we saw in 2009 at how Perry Noble's church staff went after a college professor who dared to criticize NewSpring church. And just a few weeks ago we had Ed Young declaring "Blog" stands for "basement living, opinion giving", and declaring bloggers live with their parents and blog in their undergarments.

Even in the midst of many bloggers acting independently to research and expose Ergun Caner's "decade of deceit" during 2010, Caner and his defenders tried to discredit bloggers as being "Calvinists" and "frustrated people in their basement" eating Cheetos. Ed Young followed Caner's example last month, blasting the evil "Calvinist" bloggers for being his harshest critics.

If nothing else, blogging has exposed these supposed "Men of God" as mere mortals who are really just professional religious profiteers whose religion and power has turned them into the very thing they preach against. This really is nothing new, all through the history of Christianity we see abusive professional religious men seeking to get their hands on people's money (and/or their genitals) to build religious institutions, satisfy their egos, and then to silence critics who rise up from within.

True, us bloggers don't always get things right, we make mistakes like any other human who dares to criticize those in power. But unlike most pastors, we welcome open dialogue on our blogs, and we can engage our harshest critics in the discussion on our blogs.

But back to Julie Anne's situation: in the past few months we've now seen a pastor go on the legal offensive to try to shut down a blogger. The outcome of this case will be incredibly important. Julie Anne's lawyer is wisely using the anti-SLAPP provisions of the law to protect Julie Anne from this frivolous lawsuit designed to keep her from exercising her first amendment rights.

If Julie Anne loses her anti-SLAPP motion, I think more pastors will follow Chuck's lead - especially when they see their revenues and church attendance continue to dwindle and they blame the evil bloggers. Church pastors don't have the financial constraints bloggers have: pastors can tap into their church coffers to pay for their legal maneuvers, and they likely have very rich friends who will help. Nothing can silence someone faster than the prospect of having to drain their financial resources to defend themselves against a frivolous lawsuit brought by a loving Man of God.

So let's help Julie Anne and the others affected by Chuck O'Neal's and BGBC's lawsuit. Give generously to help a person who is doing God's work in standing up to her former pastor and daring to speak about spiritual abuse.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good post WD. There is nothing like the truth. Unfortunately, the definition of truth is not always what it appears to be with some people.

Anonymous said...

LOL, Pathologicaly narcissistic people don't want to be found out so they will do anything to silence those who speak the truth. These people are predators and KNOW EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE DOING. They are not misguided or mentaly ill. Unfortunately there will always be those who chose to follow them, Matt 24:11. Nobody can help those who chose to willfully follow these people.

YOU(preacher) have already been found out by those who seek the truth. Your MASK has already slipped...

Anonymous said...

I don't see how anyone should donate anything until it becomes evident that the anti-slapp is not going to work out. The plaintiff has to pay her lawyer if the suit is determined to be without merit...right? So she wins the anti-slapp and she sends me my money back? Donates the money to a charity? I do not get it.

Scott said...

Should I donate off of my gross income or my net income?

Anonymous said...

Done! We, too have our story of church abuse. How heartbreaking to read of the many vital and called members of God's family being threatened, harassed, and pushed out of the church by its so-called leaders.
The church does exist outside the four walls of any building & we are grateful for being His children called to serve no matter where we are.

Anonymous said...

Watchdog is nothing but a chihuahua mutt. Lol

Anonymous said...

Apparently, their are quite a few people who understand that "free speech" does not give anyone the right ruin the reputation of others. You are wrong that "this is what America is all about." What America is all about is respecting the rights of others. Freedom of speech does not allow you to yell fire in a crowded theater, nor does it give you permission to ruin the reputation of others by making false and baseless statements.

The blogging world is riffe with those who will write defamatory remarks about preachers while expecting them to Biblically turn the other cheek.

Wake-up, this is only the maiden voyage. Win lose or draw there are some precedents that are getting set in motion that are going to affect what "bloggers" callously write about others.

Time to find another hobby?

Anonymous said...

Wow what a country! We have a watchdog on the east coast that can sue his pastor who called him a sociopath and win. On the west coast we have a stalker that gets sued by her pastor for calling him a sex offender and he loses! Amazing.

dickm said...

In Montana, my case involves a challenge of County Commissioners to implement zoning. The Commissioners hired a Montana Association of Counties attorney to prosecute counterclaim of being a "vexatious litigant". Form of SLAPP. Constitution and statutes say I have right to seek redress of grievances in court, but attorney is playing game of legal procedures and as self represented litigant, I am losing. Fifteen months of proceeding and $16,000 of costs. Keep fighting. Constitutional rights are being deprived by malicious lawsuits.

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