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Apparently it was a slow news day in regards to bashing Christianity, so I’m immensely grateful to whomever dug up this jewel of information.  I’m grateful that it got coverage in Arizona when it happened in some small Georgia town.

I can imagine the conversation the reporter and editor must have had.  Let’s not examine the facts of this case, let’s just focus on how mean it all is.  Right.  Definitely let’s not bother to check into the church’s membership policies or explore if there are any other issues involved with this or even talk with the Pastor or some other church representative.  Let’s just smear the congregation and Christianity for once again not being nice.

Was this woman receiving care from her congregation during her incapacitation?  What does it mean to be “considered sick and shut-in for several months”?  Who considered her such, based on what criteria?  What is the church’s statement regarding worship attendance and tithing?  If she was visited by her pastor or church leadership during her sickness, what happened at those meetings?  How did the reporter find out about this situation?  Have there been other complaints about the congregation?  Did the woman approve this means of dealing with the situation?  Why not post an actual picture of the entire letter, rather than just the portion with the pastor’s signature?

Removing someone from the congregational roster of members is something that should be done thoughtfully.  Some people have the notion that just because you’re baptized in a congregation you are automatically a member for life, which is incorrect – or at least not Biblically specified.  Some people derive a sense of comfort from knowing that they are considered members of a church(or a mosque, or a synagogue, I would think).  There are times when removing someone from the roster of membership can be necessary in order to help that person recognize that they are not expressing membership in a Biblical way, and that can include tithing (Proverbs 3:9, Matthew 6:21, 1 Timothy 5:17-18 seem like some good baselines).

The upshot of the story – for utter lack of actual, useful details – is that none of those things matter.  Attendance doesn’t matter, financial support doesn’t matter – logically it would seem that nothing really matters other than the preference of the individual member.  This woman’s shock and unhappiness is all that matters.  That’s pretty lousy reporting regardless of the subject.

All that being said, I hope there’s more to the story than this.  I hope that this woman was not cut loose from her church because of being sick.  I hope that there is more to this story than poor pastoring or poor church leadership.  And I fully realize there might not be more to the story than human sinfulness.  Unfortunately I’ll never know any of that based on this article, which has no purpose other than smearing a church and a religion.

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