Chuck O’Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church, Spiritual Abuse, Negative Google Reviews, Defamation Lawsuit
The other day, I got a call from my good friend, Michelle, who used to attend the cult/church we attended. Her husband used to be on staff at the church (Beaverton Grace Bible Church) and was fired. That led to a big shakeup where we got to see our ex-pastor’s true colors, and we eventually left.
Fast forward a few years, I was still reeling about the spiritual devastation that many of us experienced after leaving the place. I was especially concerned about the percentage of young adults who turned their backs on Christ and were headed down dangerous paths sexually after sitting under his oppressive and legalistic teachings. It was because of this harm done to many of our families that I decided to leave a negative Google review on the church’s Google page. I did not want any more families to go through what our families had faced.
Somehow, my ex-pastor was able to talk Google into removing my negative Google reviews, so I started a blog, and within a week, I was served a subpoena. He sued me and 4 others for $500,000 in a defamation lawsuit.
After the defamation lawsuit he filed against me went viral, literally hundreds of people left negative Google reviews (some challenging him to sue them!). It was amazing to get so much support considering our church had about 100 members at the most!
Over the years since winning the lawsuit, Google has removed some of those old reviews, but others still remain.
I was thrilled when Michelle texted me this:
So . . . . leaving negative Google reviews do work! But you might get sued if you leave one. If you get sued, it will probably get dismissed in court. But I cannot guarantee that.
32 thoughts on “Negative Google Reviews are Still Keeping People Away from My Spiritually Abusive Church 6 Years after Lawsuit”
Great to hear some goodie good good News… 🙂
Defend the Sheep…
But umbrella liability policies are affordable and offer protection for libel defense. Just in case you do get sued.
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The power of truth is amazing! Yes, their site is deceiving, especially if you don’t know what is meant by a “biblical reformed church.”
I’m somewhat surprised how common it is for legalistic churches to latch onto “Grace”. But, yes, “Biblical” is another codeword for a legalistic interpretation. “Reformed” doesn’t match the pattern as much. There are churches all over the board with Reformed in the name, and it somewhat goes back to which tradition they follow – English/Scottish tend to be more legalistic and Dutch tend to be more gracious.
Jonathan Edwards, who is somewhat the poster child of the Piper-esque was an English Reformed Puritan (hence the name Neo-Puritan) and Abraham Kuyper was Dutch. The theological traditions that followed these men are both Reformed, but vastly different.
“Grace” in the official name of a church should be treated as “People’s” or “Democratic” in the official name of a Third World country.
“The more adjectives about Democracy in a country’s official name, the nastier a dictatorship it is.”
— TV Tropes, “People’s Republic of Tyranny”
Mark – it’s unreal how many abusive churches use the name “Grace.” Maybe it’s a ploy to draw people in.
I also left a church with the name “Grace” (Baptist), and chose not to do anything like a Google review, for better or worse. I at least like to think that what I did choose to do may have been even more harmful to the churches that are like-mindless; I started speaking and writing openly about the very real harms of the theological errors at hand, King James Only theology and “Trail of Blood.” We can debate whether the personal attacks of KJVO/TOB are because of the character of the person making them, or whether the person makes them because KJVO/TOB trains him to do so, but when I point out that the only support KJVO/TOB has is such logical fallacies, I’ve inoculated, to a degree, the person I’m speaking with against the whole movement.
Your situation and your mileage may vary, of course, but just what I’ve seen. I’ve left a few churches for cause, and by and large, what I’m saying is that the leadership is not, per 1 Timothy and Titus, qualified.
Two other thoughts; good new picture, gracious hostess, and I can also commend umbrella insurance. Good for kids in college having mishaps in the kitchen, pastors suing you, and a whole lot more, and not very expensive. Yes, I write from experience.
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I shared a meme today…
“Sometimes people hurt you and act like they are the ones are that were hurt.”
I was diagnosed with PTSD after what happened at my ‘church’ and have learned that “Posting a scripture a day on facebook doesn’t make you a christian any more than sitting in the garage makes you a car.”
Life is tough when you life with fake christians, and that is all the time.
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JA, I still am amazed at how church leaders twist the gospel message! It boils down to power, power and even more power!
Unfortunately, men like your former pastor tend to double down when they are called out and blame it all on Satan, evil feminists, liberals etc.
I think they all must rely on the Mark Driscoll playbook and project any criticism on Spiritual Warfare! Can you believe these chuckleheads still hang on! Thanks for your blog!
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Did O’Neal refer his “Grace” doctrine as “Truth”?
He sure did, D. It was not just “Truth,” he tried to convince us that there was no other church in the area that had the “Truth.” Others were all inferior. He also did not make friends with other local pastors because his doctrine was correct, theirs was not.
JA – there is something terribly sad about Christians, let alone pastors, who will not meet other believers in other denominations for fear there own convictions might end up being challenged. Meet people who do things differently. I wonder how your ex-pastor could know the others in the vicinity have incorrect doctrine when he doesn’t know them.
There is only one church, and it is healthy to visit other parts of it in other locations from time to time. Get a bigger picture than just one local church.
Narrowmindedness is not a Christian virtue!
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I just wonder in all the time you went to O’Neal’s church that he quoted 1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
It would surprise me if he did, my pastor didn’t. Anything like that would be “tickling of the ears” Add up the combine years they have preached and that would be significant amount of time not hearing that verse.
The emphasis on the word “Truth” is where I take issue. It is like they are choreographing what an instructor mentored them to say as they force feed their more aggressive form of Hyper-Calvinistic/Reformed doctrine.
They stay within the perimeters of a very skinny book of “TULIP” instead of expanding the full boundaries of a much thicker Holy Bible.
Sure, they may already have an abusive mentality toward those that don’t see it the same as them, or even to those that do, but when they use the term “Truth” as an answer to answer to everything especially if they want to keep their full doctrine a mystery. But I also believe Reformed instructors are mentoring their students to be aggressive to a point of being abusive.
I have a hunch the word “Truth” is being instilled into prospective 5 and 6 Point Preachers coming out of hard core Calvinistic Campus’s and On-line Seminaries.
I’m sure our former Pastor’s were part of or related to YRR movement that spread like a wild fire in the 2000’s. Just wondering if Albert Mohler nurtured the YRR to be as aggressive as they are.
I think religion is no different than any other knowledge-based occupation. There are the theoreticians, the practitioners and the consumers. So, let’s say medicine. When my doctor says I need to reduce my sodium intake because high blood pressure is a leading cause of heart disease, he is operating as a practitioner and I’m a consumer. I may or may not have the knowledge to decide whether he is correct or incorrect. He may be a theoretician/practitioner which means he read the research and came to the same conclusion, or he may simply be regurgitating what he’s been told.
In the same way, there are theologians, pastors and members. So, theologians actually study the research, study the Bible with an eye towards asking whether they believe the truth or not. Pastors typically just follow in lock-step with what the approved theologians teach.
So, when it comes to the narrowness of, for example, TULIP, it is an echo chamber. Pastors start as members in TULIP denominations, who only approve of TULIP seminaries as training places for their pastors, and then are told which theologians are teaching “truth”. So, for my former denomination, there were only a handful of seminaries, most with “Reformed” in the name, and similarly, only a certain collection of theologians (essentially https://www.monergism.com/authors) were approved to be used in sermon illustrations.
And, interestingly, like sodium, there is more of a religious zealotry among the practitioners than the theoreticians. So, people were put on low sodium diets and it caused problems, because there is a healthy amount of sodium that is required for our bodies to function, but what the practitioners understood was sodium=bad. But even now, there is religious zealotry between the theoreticians and camps of practitioners, whether low sodium diets actually help or hurt.
So, yes, there is a fear among the practitioners that somehow we are constantly on the knife-edge of heresy. So, even having lunch with someone of another tradition is liable to lead someone into some sort of heretical doctrine. That was something I challenged in my former church – if our doctrine is true, then why are we so afraid and apologetic about it? Why do we have to label and contempt anyone who holds any slightly different viewpoint?
Not necessarily. I know many people who switched from one denom to another, one theology to another, some of whom later became pastors. I think I’ve said this before, but many people carry little bits and pieces of all sorts of theology and mush them together in ways that work for them. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, or really even that theology has to be consistent. I think none of us really know.
What matters, what truly matters, is the way we treat other people. Period. That’s where these guys are falling down.
Mark, I think on an individual level as well, there are people who are downright afraid to even consider other viewpoints, lest it lead to a crisis of faith. What if you reject one thing and that leads to you to reject all? But then, what is faith if it cannot withstand knowledge. That is the question I would ask of them. At heart, they don’t trust their faith.
And controlling religious people don’t trust you. Attempted control of your thoughts is a bad sign.
Thank you for writing this; and for your courage in standing up to false doctrine.
Many times, it is very, very, very painful for a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ to fall under heretical teaching done in His name.
Yet, Scripture says to test “the spirits”. The gift of discerning of spirits is very real today, just as it was when Scripture was written.
Scripture also says to let no one despise “your youth”, and a rebuke soundly administered procures more favour than false praise.
Scripture also says if we see someone being led to death (paraphrasing badly here), and do not open our mouth; we are just as guilty and bear the sin of their death. (Again, paraphrasing badly).
The point is: false doctrine leads to spiritual death. How many “preachers” have led God’s sheep into false pastures? ? ?
By pointing out the heresy, and false doctrine, an open door has been shown for the sheep to go to another pasture.
Thank you for having the courage to stand, and for having this web-site.
Bike Bubba, what is Trail of Blood?
“Trail of Blood” is an alternate-history trace used by Landmark Baptists to give themselves “Apostolic Succession” as the Only True Church. It follows the usual claim that the Church went completely off the rails into Romish Popery early on, except for a True Remnant which was Persecuted by the False Apostate Church through the ages. This True Remnant is traced through various splinter groups until it ends with (naturally) the Landmark Baptists.
Here’s the Internet Monk article on the subject, circa 2008:
P.S. Here’s the official Trail of Blood trace:
Wow. That looks like a load of crazy to me.
Cindy, HUG gets it about right about the Trail of Blood. It more or less claims that there was always a remnant of Baptistic believers who passed down their faith in geographically and ethnically diverse ways. Evidence for that Baptistic theology, as well as links between the groups, is pretty sparse, to be polite about the matter. (less polite; it’s BS. Pardon my French, but it is)
Most Baptists, myself included, are not of this view, pointing out that the heritage of the church is in Scripture, not pedigree, and that Scripture says nothing about the need for such a pedigree, either.
Pastor James and his minions are suing Elephant’s Debt bloggers and a radio host for touching the Lord’s annointed by giving them negative reviews.
Notice in a related story a dentist is also suing someone over a bad yelp.
One allegation by the dentist is that the yelp review said he’s not a real dentist. Maybe we need more reviews that some of these money-grubbing money changers in the temple are not real pastors. Of course I’m not a real pastor myself. 😦
John, that’s really sad–I had thought that with the supposed reconciliation between MacDonald and the elders who left around 2013 (?), but apparently he is carrying some grudges around long after he’s said he wasn’t, and may also be returning to a frankly materialistic lifestyle.
I figured the supposed reconciliation with the former elders was a pretty clever business move– heading off a bunch of former elders uniting against him… but no more than that.
I would love to argue with you, John, but I can’t at this point. And correction on my part (that you inferred I believe, thank you); I should have said that “with the supposed reconciliation with the elders who left in 2013, I would have guessed that this kind of thing would be off the table, but apparently I am wrong.”
I visited “The Elephant’s Debt” yesterday, and one thing I noted was that the only significant thing that is new that could conceiveably be grounds for a lawsuit is the purchase of a million dollar home by MacDonald. Thin grounds to sue unless they’re referring to what they said they’d settled a couple of years back.
My church maintains you need both (and I agree with that); the problem with Scripture(TM) without the historical trace/pedigree is it can all-too-easily drift into nothing more than just another book of myths, set “a long time ago in a galaxy far far away”.
Thanks for sharing. I’ve been thinking about leaving a review for a former church I just left in order to warn others. Many of us have left quietly after spiritual abuse. We are very scarred as life long friends have turned their backs on us to remain in the church and because it was our home church of many years. It felt like our home was stolen. It’s still so fresh so sorry if I’m sharing more than I should. I honestly don’t care if I get sued. It’s stupid and unbiblical that a pastor would stoop to that level anyways. I’m going to keep praying about whether I want to leave a review.
HI Gao – thanks for your comment. I understand what you are going through. I can give you hints on how to word your review if you decide to leave one: make sure you say, It is my belief that _____, it is my opinion that ______. If you say something as fact, that is where you can get into trouble. But if you share your experiences and your opinions, you should be fine. 🙂
If you ever need to vent, feel free to comment again – or I can even share your story if you like.