The Church argues that it is immune from suit because “what is ‘disparaging’ involves subjective judgment through the eyes of the Church.” To the contrary, applying the plain meaning of the word “disparage,” a factfinder could determine whether the Church belittled Shannon or “reduce[d her] in esteem or rank” when, as alleged, (1) a Church member initiated a conversation with the Seminary about Shannon’s references after Shannon already had been hired, (2) Winship, the Church’s head of human resources, told Gabbard, the representative from the Seminary, that she could not discuss the reasons Shannon left the Church but also “could not think of a circumstance under which the [C]hurch would rehire [Shannon] or that [Shannon] would want to come back,” and (3) Steane told Gabbard that “it should be obvious that there were issues, otherwise there would not be an agreement” and “it would be difficult for [Shannon] to carry out her duties as a fundraiser” anywhere in Houston. Although these facts may be disputed, they can be analyzed under a neutral definition in purely secular terms.
Shannon v. Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, U.S., — S.W.3d —, No. 14-14-00359-CV 2015 WL 4463919 at *6 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] July 21, 2015).