QUOTE(Amlord @ May 4 2006, 08:18 AM)
The lower court dismissed the case, it seems, not on the merits but because very little testimony was given. Westbrook's attorneys maintained that the court had no legal basis for hearing testimony relating to intra-church procedures. The case was dismissed because Penley was not able to get Westbrook (or anyone from the church) to testify.
QUOTE(Amlord @ May 4 2006, 10:54 AM)
But the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show that she went to Mr. Westbrook as a secular counselor and not her clergyman. Her actions seem to indicate that this was not the case.
The more I look at this thread, the more I’m convinced that how one replies has much to do with how one sees authority. How much authority does, or should, a “pastor” have over his “flock?” My answer to that is, only as much as the individual
congregant wishes the minister to have.
I would also suggest that the struggles for power within a church setting often involve matters other than adultery. I have a couple of illustrations, one as an insider and the other as an outside observer.Observation from within
In October 1960, I was a high school senior, who had turned 18 the previous month. I kind of grew up in the largest Baptist church in Fort Worth. As the election grew near, the pastor decided he needed to warn
his flock about the horrid dangers of electing John F. Kennedy President of the United States. The week before the election he preached a “sermon?” in which he advised voting against Kennedy because he was a Catholic. In grad school I wrote a paper on anti- Catholicism in the 1960 election. I managed to get a copy of the sermon, then six years old, from the church library. In an emotional speech lasting about 45 minutes, the pastor used the words “Rome,” “Roman, or “Romanish” [sic] 38 times.
At that time 18-year-olds could not vote. After the service I went down front, shook the pastor’s hand and informed him I thought the sermon out of line and that if I could vote it would be for Kennedy. The pastor, who was 6’4”, glared down at me and said he was just “trying to preach the gospel.” I didn’t say it, but the thought that ran through my mind was “well that wasn’t what you were doing.”
After this episode some, but not all, of the young people gave me a cold shoulder and let me know it wasn’t the place of an upstart high school kid to dispute a pastor’s sermon. When I think of Nixon as the alternative, it amazes me how much smarter than the pastor I was and only wish more people had called him on this power grab that reached even the voting booth.Observation from without
I am almost finished reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln
. One of the things I’ve come to love about Lincoln is his almost unique ability to illustrate complex ideas with simple stories.
In 1998, I was attempting to setup a DJ business to supplement my income when I retired. I played several nursing homes free, but my first paying gig was in a small, conservative evangelical church in a suburb of Fort Worth.
As it turns out, the guy who booked me and I had known each since first grade. I had just set up my equipment when the pastor approached me. The conversation was somewhat surreal.
The pastor introduced himself and said:
“Now I don’t know you from Adam, so I hope you don’t play anything in here tonight that’ll make me have to get down on my hands and knees and ask forgiveness from the man upstairs. You know, no Steppenwolf
or Grand Funk Railroad.
I assured the pastor that I played by request, and didn’t think his members would request anything like that.
They treated well. They invited me to partake in dinner and paid me in advance.
Once the dance stared, the pastor was in font of the stage dancing by himself. It seems his wife did not attend that night. After about an hour he came up and told me to play about three more songs and they were going to wind it down. When I announce this, he said “no, that’s alright, I’m going home, but they want to stay.”
Within 30 minutes of the pastor’s leaving, 75% of those in attendance left. A small core of dancers hung around for several hours.
What I was viewing was a power struggle between a pastor and members of his congregation.
My friend sort of won this one, despite those that took their cue from the pastor and made a hasty exit. He won the battle, but didn’t win the war.
My friend booked me again a year later. He had rented the community convention center and planned to hold the dance there, rather than in the church. A few days late he called and cancelled, saying he couldn’t get enough people to attend. He asked how much he owned me and I told him, “Nada, I know what your up against.”
It appears the pastor distaste for dancing had won out over my friend’s desire to have a dance.GETTING BACK TO PENLEY
Does it really surprise you Amlord
that nobody would testify in the lower court? Westbrook sure as hell wasn’t. My guess: it's all aboujt a “spiritual tyrant" trying to protect his power, much like my former pastor, who tried to derail Kennedy’s election and my friend’s pastor who did scuttle all
future dances. Westbrook is flexing his power muscles and displaying an ego on steroids. This isn’t about adultery, it’s about power, control and authority. The congregants will not testify because they are afraid he might punished them. As with the secular world, Lord Acton's
words hold true. "Power corrupts and absoute power corrupts absolutely."Amlord
I am not as sure as you are about how this will play out in court, but I am ever so certain that it will
end up in federal court. The ramifications of this are huge. It will impact what people in the pew will tell their clerics and have pastors, with state license in counseling, scurrying about for better CYA