Church Defamation: Pastor Sues Ex-Members

Picture of church to accompany blog post about a church defamation caseA church defamation lawsuit made headlines. Here’s a summary of the case.

Church Defamation Case Study: Pastor Sues Former Members Over Blog

An Oregon pastor filed suit against former members of his congregation, claiming that their negative blog posts cost the church $500,000.

The defendant’s attorney recently questioned the plaintiffs justification for the $500,000 award request. “[They] just didn’t cause that much damage,” she reasoned.

The church defamation defendants filed a free speech motion, claiming that their critical online comments were protected by free speech rights. “It may not be what [they] want to hear,” said one of the defendants, who further explained that she “absolutely had the right” to post her criticism and feelings about the congregation.

Congregation Switch Led To Shunning?

The Church defamation tale goes back several years when the main defendant — whom we’ll call “Ashley” — switched congregations. According to reports, after Ashley left, former church friends inexplicably shunned her in public. After meeting with other defectors, Ashley realized that she wasn’t alone. In short order, she’d created an online community where ex-members posted their versions of “creepy” and “cult-like” incidents initiated by members of the former congregation.

What Is The Likely Outcome Of This Church Defamation Case?

Since the news of the lawsuit made headlines, Ashley says she has received tons of positive support from other ex-members and expect the case to be dismissed, whether through the freedom of speech motion or through the trial process.

For their part, church representatives declined to comment and reporters said the establishment’s answering machine was full.