To flee or not to flee? A church question

bible girl 01Hey, it is the 4th of July, so I think that -- other than filing my Scripps Howard News Service column for this week -- I am going to take it a bit easy. Thus, let me simply point you toward the latest column from Julie "Bible Girl" Lyons of the Dallas Observer, which is both (a) another update on the ongoing saga of the Rev. Sherman Allen, a Church of God in Christ superstar pastor in Fort Worth who has been accused of acts that are very hard to describe in a daily newspaper and (b) the latest chapter in her stunningly candid (You doubt me? Click here) journal of her own spiritual journey as one of the leaders of the Pentecostal Body of Christ Assembly in South Dallas.

As I have said before, this is not traditional religion-news writing. To tell you the truth, there are times when I am not sure what she is doing -- but it sure is interesting faith-based material in an alternative weekly.

Right near the top of this column, Lyons opens up a very important topic, one that is important in theological terms but also could be the hook for an amazing series of news features across a wide range of religious traditions. But this is precisely the kind of religion story that is the hardest to write, because it is built on a serious doctrinal issue and bitter, often private disputes that involve lawyers, as well as clergy.

Here we go:

Now let me say this before I turn a corner. I see no biblical justification whatsoever for a believer to remain under the leadership of a sexually immoral pastor. I see instead much evidence that one should never do so. ...

I don't care if your grandma's nameplate is on the front pew; if the leaders are involved in sexual mess and you've seen evidence -- "every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses" -- you ought to wait for the shouting music, then grab a corner of your long dress, slap your feathered hat on your head and jerk on out the emergency exit. Leave your frilly hanky behind; do like Joseph, Sister. Remember, sin is contagious: A little leaven will work its way through the whole loaf. You might not end up doing any of those bad things yourself, but your expectations -- your trust in God, his Word and his servants -- will take a severe beating. You may or may not recover.

To all those folks I've talked to, allow me to say this: Don't give up on God. His Word is still true, and, as my spiritual leaders always remind me, there still are people trying to live a godly life, and some of them are actually pastors and preachers.

Read on. You will especially enjoy her hints at a future column about her life in an African-American congregation, a piece that she plans to call "Stupid Things White People Say." A preview: Avoid the word "nappy."

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