By Kenneth Justice

~ A good friend of mine recently had a dispute with the church he’s been attending for the past few years, with the goal of keeping my nose out of other people’s businesses (because my nose is especially clean today and I don’t feel like getting it dirty). If you feel like starting your day with the bullet points of what started out to be a molehill and yet turned into a mountain; the jist of the dispute goes like this;

  1. My friend went to the church leadership and complained about the behavior of certain people(s) at the church
  2. The church leadership told my friend to go suck an egg (okay, maybe they didn’t use those exact words but I’m sure it was something along those lines)
  3. My friend complained to the church leadership again and repeated his request for the church to address the problem of the people(s) behavior
  4. The church leadership didn’t like the words my friend used in his second request and promptly accused my friend of being uncharitable and said there now needed to be an official church meeting which would involve my friend (all by his lonesome) and multiple representatives from the church to determine whether or not my friend was “in sin” for his uncharitable words.
  5. Suddenly, what started as a complaint my friend was registering had now turned into a full blown trial against my friend! A trial I might add in which the leaders of his church were both the prosecution, the jury, and the judge (I guess his church believes in fairness)
  6. My friend requested there to be a neutral third party who would preside over this meeting in order for there to be fairness all around.
  7. The church leaders denied his request for a neutral third party arbitrator and in an unexpected twist the church leaders decided to not have the meeting at all and ended up ruling against my friend; GUILTY AS CHARGED!
  8. No meeting ever took place and it has been communicated to my friend that he is “IN SIN” and not welcome to walk through the doors of the church ever again until he formally apologizes for the words he used in registering his compliant.
  9. And who says church leaders can’t be fair.


If I were to include the details of this debacle the story suddenly becomes rather juicy but for the time being I’m keeping it all anonymous. I thought I might post it and see if other people have ever had run- ins with authority figures who treated them unjustly.

I once received a speeding ticket in which I was going 25 miles UNDER the speed limit due to icy conditions on the road. When I pled my case to the judge he looked at me smugly and said, “Do the crime: do the time” and rubber stamped my case GUILTY.

Fortunately, guilty in my speeding case only met that I had to pay the $150 ticket, but I was nonetheless amazed at the incredulity of the judge; is there no justice in the world? If you haven’t noticed by now, “Justice” is something I think about a lot; partly because I believe in Justice for the innocent and partly because it’s written on my arm and I can’t get the damn ink cleaned off! But that’s okay, since if I’ve got to look at something on my arm every day, “Justice” is far more preferable to look at then “Sweetie Pie” which is what a friend of mine had tattooed on his butt cheeks when he was drunk and on vacation in Thailand twenty five years ago.

I for my part am very thankful that my butt doesn’t say Sweetie Pie every time I sit on the throne; because that my dear readers would be just a bit odd.

Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee this morning. Sumatra with no cream and no sugar of course.


Categories: Culture & Society

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

34 replies

  1. Do you hear the other side of the story?


  2. Did you confirm / clarify any of this with the Church leadership? It sounds as though this is just his side of what happened. Having been through some of this, it’s amazing the conspiracy and spinning that goes on in people’s heads. This sounds just way too lopsided and ridiculous to be accurate.

  3. Our school was forced to take on a “nut” of a principal. Teachers fled the school. Counselors had heart attacks from the stress. My turn was when a student who lied to her parents, spread a rumor about me. I brought in the Union rep and we documented the insane behavior of this principal in the smearing of my reputation. I left that job at exactly the right time for my life. The principal was demoted after 2 more years. Sometimes Justice is slow. We can only do our part by speaking up. When we do our part to fight for Justice, then it sometimes is best to get out of harm’s way. Move on to a healthier place to be.

  4. It is from this writing hard to say right from wrong. It depends on the behaviour those people supposedly showed. That said a smart and he who can clearly make a distinction of what could be right or wrong might have some good ground to make a complaint.

    Either way if nothing is said and no complaints or opinions are made one never hears the other side of the story. An answer that can than be learned from.
    To just deem it as a sin or not say anything in return just claim the one with an opinion is at fault is just running away from at least giving it some thought.

    It just gives to think what JUSTICE really is.

    And that says an opinionated man who uses that to provoke thought and is well aware he can be wrong. 😀

    Enjoy your coffee man.

  5. Good morning Mr. Justice! 😎

  6. On a slight tangent from your topic, but in the church leadership vein. These church communities are set up for exactly this kind of situation. Congregants adopt a consumer approach to a church (or any intentional community) and leadership adopts the position that they need to police the membership.

    This fails everytime and cheapens community. My friend Terry Mollner told me a story a few weeks back about a community he helped found. He discovered that unless he lead every event, people wouldn’t come. That’s not a community, that’s a product. He intentionally let it die by declining to lead. But a few years later people started talking again, and the group organically reformed. They recognized (or not) that it wasn’t a “product” that they were consuming, it was the connection that they came for. That’s community.

    In community, if there is a problem, people will band together to solve it. In paternalistic organizations (church, etc) people go complain to the leadership about the problem and the leadership ends up adopting a police strategy for “keeping the peace”, but need to also work to maintain a hold on its “customers”. This leads to a complainer\complainee relationship. How many of us enjoy that dynamic, even if the complainer has a justified complaint?
    Not very sustainable.

  7. If this scenario is true, Kenneth, now I know why I don’t go to church. Of course there might have been a few details left out or exaggerated by your friend?

    I think it’s time for your friend to “Move on to a healthier place” (as biochicklet put it).

    Life is too precious to waste on unfair and/or negative people and situations.

  8. I’m a believer in confronting the person first, before appealing to authority.

  9. They cast him out because he was “in sin”? That’s like an auto shop not servicing a car because it’s broken. But yes, I don’t know a lot of the details, so it’s hard to side with one or the other.

    How’s this for justice – I went to the police in the town where I grew up to files claims of child abuse against my ex-step father. I was 2 weeks past my statute of limitations. Nothing could be done.

  10. I look forward to updates (read: juicy details) in future posts.

  11. I’m not sure I’ve yet seen, experienced or heard of justice being enacted by authority figures in my life. I have seen, experienced and heard about countless injustices however. I wonder if justice is like many other things in life, something we fail to notice on a daily basis because we often take the justice we do experience for granted? It is only when things do not go our way that we loudly proclaim how unfair life is nowadays. Our mind only registers the negative and our impression of justice becomes tainted. The more we look for injustice the more we find it and the more likely we are to accept that it is commonplace. Now, that being said, I fully believe that horrible injustices happen everyday to very undeserving people with absolutely no blame on their part for the awful events that occur. However, what was the root cause of so many people/police/judges/government/leaders/etc to feel that their behavior and lack of caring is acceptable? The problem of injustice cannot be solved until we understand the reason behind it.

  12. Not knowing the details on both sides, it is impossible to judge. However, I will say that I personally know of numerous examples of abuse of authority when a group of authority figures have the sanction of “religious authority” attached to their names.

  13. LOL wow….you’re really showing off more of your personality now Kenneth. I like it. So that’s what I saw on your arm doing our podcast…hmmm. Well that makes sense…it certainly does suit you in more ways than one. 🙂 You lil’ rebel. Anyway, I can’t say I ever personally experienced injustice like that. I’ve been really lucky *knock on wood*. Before the pastor retired, Father Canjour was such an amazing and progressive Catholic priest that those kinds of things just were unheard of at my church. He was a very kind, fair man and nothing like you’d expect out of a Catholic priest at all. I was just speaking with a friend about this and I from the beginning grew up with a totally different sense of what religion was and should be because he was so good. It wasn’t until after his retirement and seeing the new pastor come in and do nothing but talk about money and running off the choir teacher because he found out she’d been divorced (nevermind that it was because that guy had been abusive) that I began to see negative elements of religion. I was pretty sheltered and I’m grateful for that. it is really unfortunate when fairness and acceptance is taught but seldom actually used. It’s quite terrible. Ick,

  14. It seems perfectly likely to me, to have a church do this sort of thing.
    But not all churches by any means.
    The one my partner and I attend is wonderful, and would welcome comments and complaints, if there were any. We are treated well, and I feel welcome, even though I am not really a church goer, per se.

    But it is the butt tattoo part of the story that really makes this a fun read. Thanks.


  15. In traffic court you are ALWAYS guilty. There is nothing you can say, no proof good enough. You’re guilty. That’s how they make their money. It’s happened to me time and time again and it’s happened to everyone I know. They have quotas to mean and the police need to bring in a certain amount of money through tickets. Doesn’t matter if you are doing anything wrong. My son-in-law got tickets in the city and he wasn’t even THERE. H received multiple parking tickets and literally was never in the city at all. It’s all about the MONEY. It always is. Religion is about money, power and control and anyone who doesn’t know that, isn’t thinking it through.

  16. I find it fascinating that several commenters question the honesty of your friend – only one side of the story, etc. having said that, to answer your query regarding others who have experienced similar situations, you can read my story at Beyond that, tell your friend to run, shake the dust as he goes, and never look back. They aren’t representing God . He’s not like them and they are not like Him.

  17. Yup, have had that happen. It’s a people problem. Some are good, wise, gracious…some are just relational morons. And, as you point out, it’s not isolated to churches. They’re not immune to these shortcomings. And, of course, there’s the two-sides of the story thing. But if I were your friend, I would exit that church immediately and find a healthier one. There are plenty that aren’t like that at all. Just like there are plenty of judges who aren’t idiots. 🙂

  18. I will never understand why churches kick people out who are “in sin.” I don’t care who is right or wrong in this case. If he is indeed living in sin, then wouldn’t the thought process be that he needs a supportive church now more than ever? If he conquers his sin without the church, why would he ever come back?

    Ah, so that’s the game. If he never apologizes, thereby staying in sin, he’s out of the church. If he resolves his issue without the church, he probably won’t come back. They get their way in either case.

  19. While, like others who’ve commented, I don’t know “the full story” — it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve so many times witnessed organisations turn against those who speak up and challenge the status quo. Even when it seems that the person is not threatening the organisation itself, those in control see it thus. And as for law courts … I just thought of the line from the Billy Bragg song ‘Rotting on Remand’ …

    “I said there is no justice as they dragged me out the door. The judge said this isn’t a court of justice son, this is a court of law.”

  20. Injustice upsets all of us, I think, because we can all relate to feeling upset when we have been wronged. A story like this can really underline the fact that it’s wrong to judge someone based on how you feel, instead of looking at both sides objectively. My mom was actually very hurt by her church 4 years ago, where the pastors wife accused my mom of saying something inappropriate (which she did not), my mom being made to feel unwelcome, a meeting scheduled with the pastor and the head counselor at the parent church with my parents, which the pastor didn’t attend and the counselor condemned my mom, and then my parents left the church. The pastor and his wife/family actually live in my family’s neighborhood, so this has led to some run-ins at the grocery store, and (not) surprisingly, the pastor has acknowledged that his wife blew things out of proportion, and that my mom did nothing wrong, but do you think they invited her back to their church? Nope. So, in theory, I sympathize with your friend.

  21. Two thoughts come to mind: a “christian” church, I assume and he probably needed a new church anyway. Making the assumption that his side of the story is accurate; somehow I feel it is.

  22. I just read this story after reading Saturday’s article. The leadership of my previous church (Previous bc I left due to distance – too far) have been dealing with an issue of church discipline for over 2 years – the reason it is so long is bc they are showing grace and, for them, going to the place of discipline is only a last resort for when they know in their hearts, and before God, that the member is in sin. I say that because, the amount of time everything took in your friend’s situation seems way too short – even without know the other side of the story. Some things should not be done in haste. You friend will soon be rejoicing that he is out of that environment – I hope this opens the door for a much better worship environment for him.

  23. The Bible does outline a process for dealing with problems like this. Don’t know from your account whether they followed guidelines or not, or whether he did, or if there was a problem in the first place. You’ve given very little useful info and it’s impossible to make any kind of judgment.

  24. Its sad when you think that the very people who are supposed to demonstrate the character of God’s love, forgiveness, and grace to one another, as written out in the New Testament, are the ones who model condemnation, un-forgiveness, and use the law against one another. The church should be the place where sinners fall into grace…instead of out of grace.

    My advice…wipe the dust off your feet and find a New Testament church.

  25. Now I want to hear the juicy part of the story. The details. But I’m sorry for your friend. I had a similar experience with the church I attended. I complained and was politely ignored. It became very clear to me in that moment church is a business. I never returned.

  26. It seems that “Justice” is like reality – a collective hunch on our parts.

    I think, it would be fair and safe to say, that given the circumstances, your friend, needs to walk away as quickly as possible, from these “Christian” leaders. Ironic how slapping a title on an institution does not absolve it from “sin” – prejudice, fear, and plain old-fashioned dictatorship.

    No one should have the right to decree how one chooses to behave. All religious principles, when stripped down from the pomp, circumstance and “human interpretations” basically say the same things – be generous of heart and spirit, respectful of self and others, etc.

    When people behave in the manner that screams “judge, jury and high executioner” all in one fell swoop, it is sickening.

  27. We live in a “relative” world, where there is no “absolute” viewpoint we could inherit and master, although we all feel to long for that, and interestingly all the believers in the world tend to claim they are in the right path (meaning exclusively), so, even they are failing to grasp the very idea what can be found in the inner core of each and every one of us heart…

    Maybe it is true, at the end of the times, in this transition period, the established churches offer empty plates for hungry souls, modern issues and wandering hearts.

    Even in the bathroom you can find God, if you are ready to establish the connection from your behalf…

    Sure, it is eaiser and would be lovely to be united in a congregation, however, what it is most important and valuable for the Heaven’s side, it is more attacked by the other side, and actually, that one has been winning for ages – but you can always make a difference…

  28. Knowing that there are three sides to every story, I’m still eager to say that this is a huge reason I don’t attend church. To be in the judgement of other people — most of whom with intellectual ability far below my own? No thanks! I’ll tithe right here at home!

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