N.C. church removes members for political views

Discussion in '2005 Archive' started by gb93433, May 6, 2005.

  1. gb93433

    gb93433
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    Associated Baptist Press

    May 6, 2005 (05-43)

    N.C. church removes members for political views, deacon says

    By Steve DeVane and Greg Warner

    WAYNESVILLE, N.C. (ABP) -- A Baptist deacon says he and eight other members of a North Carolina church were removed from membership because they disagreed with the pastor's political views.

    Frank Lowe said he had been a member of the 400-member East Waynesville Baptist Church for 43 years before he and the others were voted out May 3 for not agreeing with the conservative political views of pastor Chan Chandler.

    In October, one month prior to the November 2004 presidential election, Chandler announced in a sermon that anyone who was supporting John Kerry should repent or resign from the church, Lowe said, and then the pastor offered to hold the door for them to leave.

    The controversy at the church reached a climax Monday, May 2, when the pastor invited all church members to a deacons meeting. At the beginning of the meeting, according to Lowe, the pastor said anyone who didn't agree with his political views should leave the meeting.

    Lowe said he and eight others, including his wife, Thelma, left. The pastor then called the church into a business session and the congregation voted to terminate the memberships of those who left, Lowe said. Among those dismissed were three deacons, he said.

    The pastor's apparent endorsement of a candidate for president prior to an election could endanger East Waynesville's tax-exempt status. Federal law prevents churches and other charities organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code from officially endorsing political candidates or parties.

    Chandler, the pastor, could not be reached for comment. WLOS-TV in nearby Asheville reported that Chandler declined an interview but said "the actions were not politically motivated."

    Janet Webb, a church member who was at the meeting, declined to say what happened during the meeting but said that Chandler is "a man of God who only preaches against sin and to win people to Jesus Christ."

    Lowe said he usually votes Democratic, while his wife votes Republican. But Chandler "says my political views support abortion and homosexuality, therefore that would be enough to turn me out of the church," Lowe said. "I am not -- positively not -- for either one."

    If indeed Chandler's pulpit statement was made before the November election and did not indicate he was speaking only for himself, it would be a "pretty clear" violation of Internal Revenue Service rules against political endorsements by churches, said Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty. That could lead the IRS to revoke East Waynesville Baptist Church's tax-exempt status.

    Ralph Neas, president of the People for the American Way Foundation, called the report about the church's actions "terribly sad." "What have we come to when the doors of a church are closed to longtime members because of their political beliefs, when a pastor equates political support for the 'wrong' candidate with a sin before God?" he asked in a statement.

    "Men and women of faith have every right to advocate for their political beliefs," Neas continued. "While churches, of course, can set their own membership standards, no one should punish people of faith for their political beliefs."

    A North Carolina congressman has introduced legislation that would lift restrictions on political speech in churches. The Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act, introduced by Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), is supported by many conservative Christian groups but opposed by supporters of church-state separation.

    Walker of the Baptist Joint Committee said the Waynesville church controversy "is why so many organizations are opposed to the Jones bill, because it would be so divisive -- our churches becoming 'red' churches and 'blue' churches and dividing along party lines," referring to the color designations used for political parties.

    Lowe said he and his wife have been invited to other churches since the May 2 meeting. He expects they'll start attending somewhere else but wouldn't rule out an effort to "retake" the church.

    Another church member, Selma Morris, said she believes the vote to remove the members isn't valid because the church bylaws weren't followed. The bylaws say a called meeting should be announced on Sunday morning. The meeting Monday was announced at the Sunday evening service, she said.

    The bylaws also say a called meeting should be held two weeks after the announcement, according to Morris. The meeting was held the next night.

    Morris said she wasn't at the meeting, but would have walked out with the others if she had been there. "I can't support that," she said.
     
  2. Ben W

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    The church should be put out of fellowship for casting aside the Baptist Distinctives for a start!
     
  3. Joseph_Botwinick

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    This is all the disgruntled disfellowshipped ex-members side of the story. I would remind everyone that we have yet to hear the pastor's side of the story before we put the church out of fellowship.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  4. Alcott

    Alcott
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    Isn't autonomy of the local church one of these wonderful "Baptist Distinctives?" Or are the different distinctives heirarchical and authoritarian, so they must be violated to be preserved, or some such runaround?
     
  5. ituttut

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  6. Watchman

    Watchman
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    I do feel, thinking about it, that this pastor went too far on this. Of course you cannot seperate a politician from moral issues, but I feel as though a preacher should put it general terms: "How can you vote for a person that believes in....? Considereing God's Word clearly says...." This, I feel would keep a pastor out of trouble, while still being faithful to God and sound doctrine. IMHO
     
  7. Artimaeus

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    1Co 14:40 -
    Let all things be done decently and in order

    It doesn't look like this was the manner in which this was done.
     
  8. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Again, I repeat,

    We have heard one side of the story.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  9. rivers1222

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    In October, one month prior to the November 2004 presidential election, Chandler announced in a sermon that anyone who was supporting John Kerry should repent or resign from the church, Lowe said, and then the pastor offered to hold the door for them to leave.

    -----------------------------------------
    Although I did not nor would I vote for Kerry, the pastor wouldnt have to hold the door for me, I'd be out of there before he could get to it.
     
  10. rivers1222

    rivers1222
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    I agree Joseph, however:
    --------------------------------
    Chandler, the pastor, could not be reached for comment. WLOS-TV in nearby Asheville reported that Chandler declined an interview but said "the actions were not politically motivated."
    ----------------------------------

    We might not get his side of the story. Doesn't sound like he's to anxious to talk about it.
     
  11. JGrubbs

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    It's not just the Kerry supporters from the church that are saying this, there was a Bush voter on CNN last night that was confirming that this story is true, and that this pastor started asking the Democrats and Kerry supporters in his church to come forward during alter calls back in October of last year before the election.
     
  12. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Again,

    This is coming from those disgruntled members who have left the church.

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  13. rivers1222

    rivers1222
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    Just drawing my opinion on the only information available, the story above and some others. If it is accurate, they have every reason to be disgruntled. If it is accurate, they didnt leave, they were booted under questionable legality. My opinion is subject to change when, if, the pastor tells his side. Although he has no obligation to do so, (and I'm not holding my breath), this is all we have to go on.
     
  14. mareese

    mareese
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    It's about time churches quit putting up with wordly viewpoints and denying that they have an affect on a Christian's life.
    From what was posted, it sounds like this was what happened.
     
  15. Ben W

    Ben W
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    Isn't autonomy of the local church one of these wonderful "Baptist Distinctives?" Or are the different distinctives heirarchical and authoritarian, so they must be violated to be preserved, or some such runaround? </font>[/QUOTE]Consider these two Baptist Distinctives, both of which this pastor who refuses to comment, has broken.

    Individual Soul Liberty
    Every individual, whether a believer or an unbeliever, has the liberty to choose what he believes is right in the religious realm. No one should be forced to assent to any belief against his will. Baptists have always opposed religious persecution. However, this liberty does not exempt one from responsibility to the Word of God or from accountability to God Himself.
    Romans 14:5, 12; 2 Corinthians 4:2; Titus 1:9

    Separation of Church and State
    God established both the church and the civil government, and He gave each its own distinct sphere of operation. The government's purposes are outlined in Romans 13:1-7 and the church's purposes in Matthew 28:19 and 20. Neither should control the other, nor should there be an alliance between the two. Christians in a free society can properly influence government toward righteousness, which is not the same as a denomination or group of churches controlling the government.
    Matthew 22:15-22; Acts 15:17-29

    http://www.garbc.org/baptdist.php
     
  16. Joseph_Botwinick

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  17. rivers1222

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    Joseph,
    They didnt leave. Dont think you have heard the last of them. Like you, I am still waiting for the rest of the story. Probably have to wait till Paul Harvey comes out with it though.
     
  18. Ben W

    Ben W
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    Considering the other side refuses to comment, it is quite reasonable to be based on what those members have said.

    I think the Pastor is well aware that what he has done is wrong and resultingly refuses to comment. I think that if they do not want to comment they they should be suspended from the denomination concerned until they are prepared to make a justifiable response to a serious allegaton of misconduct. In the same way that a Baptist Minister would be treated if the allegation was of interfering with a child.
     
  19. Joseph_Botwinick

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    Actually,

    According to their own story, yes they did:

    Joseph Botwinick
     
  20. Joseph_Botwinick

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    There are other legitimate reasons why the pastor might be silent:

    1. He feels this is a private Church matter and wishes to deal with it one on one in private.

    2. He knows that there are close minded liberals out there ready to judge him based on the story of disgruntled troublemakers alone, and it probably won't matter what he says.

    I am not necessarily saying this is absolutely what is happening, but it is possible.

    Joseph Botwinick
     

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