They warned her twice to break it off, once in front of witnesses, but evidently God’s healing love requires a ritual shaming in front of the entire congregation. Which, incidentally, includes her kids — but not her. She quit the church after they violated her confidence the first time.

They’re going ahead with it anyway. To do otherwise might be considered un-Christian.

Hancock learned that her private sessions with her mentor hadn’t been so private after all, when in October her mentor pulled her aside in church and asked her come into another room.

“In the room, there were several women that I never told my business to. And they proceeded to tell me about my business and what I was doing and what a sinner I was — just persecuting me.” Hancock said. “One of the ladies was even saying ‘I was at your house when you didn’t come home all night.’”

It was then that Hancock said she decided to leave Grace Community Church…

Darrell L. Bock, a research professor for the Dallas Theological Seminary, said that public admonishment is not uncommon in churches that focus on discipline but added, “Most churches would handle this much more privately than this particular community is choosing to do.”

This kind of process normally would happen after “much more private interaction” with the person, Block said, and is normally reserved for church leaders as opposed to “a normal member of the church.”

More importantly, he said, the actions are unusual given that Hancock had severed her relationship with the church.

Here’s the actual letter they sent her, two months after she left the congregation. I can’t tell what they’re planning to do, whether it’ll be just a pro forma declaration that she’s sinned — which of course is public knowledge now anyway — or whether they’re going to spill secrets about the particulars of the relationship that were confessed to her pastor. Predictably, at least a few commenters in Headlines are citing chapter and verse to defend the church; my own reading of the relevant passage in Matthew 18 is that she’s already “neglected to hear” the third admonishment by cutting off ties with them, in which case they should skip it and just dismiss her as a heathen. Exit question: Is this actually S.O.P. in Protestant ministries, at least for congregants who are still members? I’ve never heard of anything remotely like it happening in a Catholic parish.

Tags: religion