How NOT To Win The Internet
From Beaverton Oregon comes a primo lesson in how not to win the internet – and possibly everlasting salvation, too.
A church in Beaverton, Oregon is suing a woman after she posted a negative Google review calling them a “cult.”
Julie Anne Smith revealed on her blog in March that Pastor Chuck O’Neal and Beaverton Grace Bible Church had sued her for $500,000 over negative reviews on Google and DEX that claimed that she had been shunned for no reason. (Raw Story)
So much for “turning the other cheek”, eh? Actually, it’s even worse than it sounds. Here’s the story: Julie Anne Smith posted a negative review of the church on Google Maps . When she found that her Google review had been removed, she decided to start a blog. Then the church filed a $500,000 defamation lawsuit against Smith and three other individuals. The church has even gone so far as to post a very long and very scripture-heavy defense of their actions on their website in which they do not so much refute Ms. Smith’s claims, as they try to justify the non-turning of that other cheek. (Oops!)
As I am not privy to the internal workings of this church, I cannot comment on the veracity of Ms. Smith’s claims. What I can comment on is the sheer stupidity of the church’s actions. This is not some huge mega-church with an enormous reputation to uphold. It’s a rather small evangelical congregation, from all appearances. While I can on one hand understand the desire to defend themselves, they have gone about it completely bass-ackwards.
Principle # 1: If you receive a negative review, don’t attack the reviewer. Instead, solicit positive reviews. If Julie Anne Smith is so wrong about the church, then there should be plenty of other members willing and ready to give glowing reviews. That’s how you bury a negative review.
Principle #2: Since most religious groups could probably fit the definition of a “cult”, defamation is going to be a tough case to make.
Principle #3: What would Jesus do? Despite the protestations and biblical citation of “Pastor Chuck” and his crew, the general public is not going to be swayed by obscure biblical quotes meant to buttress the argument that the Bible sanctions using legal action to go against a former member of the church for speaking her mind. Sorry folks, it’s not gonna sell! Most people understand Jesus as a rebel himself – one who would champion the freedom to speak one’s mind.
Principle #4: Do not play on the internet if you’re not prepared to lose. So this relatively small church gets miffed that they’ve got a couple bad Google reviews and decides to pursue it all the way to court…where has it gotten them so far? They now have 665 Google reviews — a low-as-you-can-get one star rating — and are being pilloried nationally by the devout as well as non-believers.
Pastor Chuck and the Beaverton Grace Bible Church: you are today’s losers of the internet.
Full disclosure: No, I am not inclined to look favorably on this church’s teachings of women’s subjugation to their husbands, anti-gay rights, etc…but any way you slice it, this is sheer internet #FAIL.