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Have you heard about
church member's bill of rights?

 
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Have you heard about church member's bill of rights?

by Dennis Diehl
 
The writer was a pastor of the Worldwide Church of God for 26 years in Ohio, Kentucky, New York and South Carolina.

GREENVILLE, S.C.--The following are basic human, religious and spiritual rights that I believe any person has as a member of any religious organization or church congregation.

You have the right to expect the church to keep your personal contributions private and insist that any who deal with such things for accounting purposes will do the same.

You have the right to expect that your membership in any church or congregation is not contingent on how much you give or do not give.

Tithing and more

You have the right to say I can give only this amount even if it is not a tithe of your income, gross or net.

You have the right not to be spiritually judged or have your loyalty or sincerity questioned based on what you can or cannot give financially to the church.

You have the right, before giving to a church, to ask the pastor if he checks tithes and offerings for any of the above reasons.

You have the right to say "I'm tired and won't be there" to any or all activities, plays, fund raisers, studies, seminars, prayer groups, rehearsals, practices or sermons.

You have the right to say, "I don't care about that."

You have the right to question the advice, counsel or sermon of any minister, elder, deacon or any other person.

You have the right to question authority and still expect to be allowed to attend your church.

Two for the money

You have the right to question a minister who declares himself one or both of the Two Witnesses of Revelation, a prophet, the Supreme Watcher of Mankind for God, The Only True Apostle in This Age or any other title or position he can come up with to impress you so you will feel the need to support him.

You have the right to suggest a pastor seek spiritual or psychological help should the need arise. You have the right to tell him that the congregation is noticing a trend here.

You have the right to ask why the church believes what it does when the Bible might say otherwise, or why the Bible says something that the church practices that seems scary, weird, inappropriate for this era, out of date, out of context or controlling.

You have the right to notice that many ministers often quote scriptures out of context or fail to enforce or address the rest of the story that does not agree with the point they are trying to make.

You have the right to ask all the "How can that be?," "How could that happen?," "Why does it say this here and that there?" questions you can come up with and expect candid and intelligent answers.

Reason for humans

If you are told that you are using human reason, ask the pastor what kind of reasoning he uses. If he says "God's," you have the right to find another church.

You have the right to specify that elders, deacons or your friends not accompany the minister on visits to your home to talk to you.

You have the right to discuss or not discuss your life with the minister as you see fit.

You have the right to expect absolute confidentiality and for your story not to show up in the sermon next week.

You have a right to be called ahead of time when the pastor wants to visit you.

You have the right, when he calls, to say, "I'm tired," "I'm busy," or "No, but I appreciate the call," without repercussions.

Red car

You have the right to keep a dirty home, grass not mowed perfectly, an older car, even a red one, and kids who don't say, "Yes, sir, nice to see you, sir," in just the right way.

You have the right to watch and read what you wish even if the pastor recently bashed that particular TV program, movie or book from the pulpit in his sermon titled "Demons in Your Home: Six Ways to Assure Your Eternal Death."

You have the right to ask the pastor not to call on you at work, even if you own your own business.

Free funeral

You have the right to say, "I can't afford to take you to lunch," "I can't afford to give you free wood or bricks," "I can't afford to fix your house up free" or "I can't fix all your teeth," should your pastor expect professional courtesies, even if he offers to do your funeral for free.

You have a right to expect free use of your church for weddings and funerals.

You have the right to expect that these privileges are not dependent on you, your parents or children living a sinless life six months before the date of the event.

Principles of living

You have the right not to answer questions your pastor may ask you or your children about your sexual practices. If he insists, then insist that you all share together.

You have the right to enjoy your sexuality free of church or pastoral approval. Something that is wrong for the pastor is not necessarily wrong for you in how you express yourself to your spouse. There is no Bible prohibition against--well, you know. And, if there were, you'd have the right to disagree with that too.

You have the right to expect the pastor not to inform you whom you may or may not date or marry.

Just what the doctor ordered

You have the right not to report to the pastor which, if any, medications you are taking.

You have the right to take such medications and not be judged as demonstrating a lack of faith or trust in God to heal you.

You have the right to seek professional help without informing your pastor of the nature of the help, and you have the right not to accept help or advice from the pastor under threat of repercussions.

You have the right to insist the pastor get professional help should the need arise and the man is causing more harm than good.

You have the right to remind him that God does not directly speak to him or express His will only through the mind of the pastor and that that concept makes you uncomfortable if he thinks that is so.

Wrong again?

You have the right to be wrong about many things.

You have the right to believe you are correct about many things without repercussions.

You have the right not to care about everything that others think you must care about to be a good Christian.

You have the right to tell the pastor he is wrong, mistaken or exaggerating.

You have the right to dress as you wish, wear the jewelry you wish and makeup you wish or not wish without being labeled a harlot or a goody-goody.

How the West was won

You have the right to believe that dressing as if it were still 1957 and watching only Disney movies or How the West Was Won as proof of your purity is baloney.

You have the right not to be told that the best times for movies and TV and other entertainment were when the pastor was a boy.

You have the right to like the food he does not like and to not like the foods he likes.

You have the right to like the schools he doesn't and not like the ones he does.

You have the right not to have to bare your soul to the minister's wife.

You have the right to like or not like, agree or not agree with, the minister's wife.

You have the right not to view the world through the pastor's eyes morally or politically.

The war in Iraq

You have the right to hate the war in Iraq while he believes the war is God's will and thinks it's all in the Bible.

You have the right to expect him to speak clearly about where he thinks the Bible speaks for us today and to walk slowly and drink cool water where it doesn't.

You have the right to inform the pastor that something is his opinion and not necessarily the One True Opinion.

You have the right for you, your children, your wife or husband, girlfriend or boyfriend and your other friends to be themselves.

Check your brain

These are but a few of the rights any member of any ministry or denomination or congregation or other religious organization has.

In short, you have the right not to be required to check your brains, your insights, your perspectives and your free will at the door to be welcome at, and a member of, any church.



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