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The Church Member's Bill of Rights -- Basic Rights Any Member of a Church Should Expect to Enjoy

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The following are basic human, religious and spiritual rights any person has as a member of any and all religious organizations or church congregations.

You have the right to expect the church to keep your personal contributions private and should be able to expect that any who deal with such things for accounting purposes will do the same.

You have the right to expect that your membership in any church or congregation is not contingent on how much you give or do not give. You should also expect that jobs, positions, opportunities or offices are not given based on the amount anyone gives.

You have the right to say I can only give this even if it is not a tithe of your income gross or net.

You have the right not to be spiritually judged or have your loyalty or sincerity questioned based on what you are able or unable to give financially to the church.

You have the right to ask a Pastor if he checks tithes and offereings for any of the above reasons before giving to a church.

You have the right to say “I'm tired and won't be there, “ to any and all activities, plays, fundraisers, studies, seminars, prayer groups, rehearsals, practices and sermons.

You have the right to say “I don't care about that.”

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You have the right to question the advice, counsel or sermon of any minister, elder, deacon or any other person in authority. You have the right to question authority and to still expect to be allowed to attend your church. You have the right to question a minister who declares himself one or both of the Two Witnesses of Revelation, a Prophet, the Supreme Watcher of Mankind for God, The Only True Apostle in this Age and any other title or position he can come up with to impress you as to why you need to support him.

You have the right to suggest a pastor get spiritual or psychological help should the need arise. You have the right tell him that the congregation is noticing a trend here.

You have the right to ask why the church believes what it does when the Bible might say otherwise, or why the Bible says something that the church practices that seems scary, weird, inappropriate out of date or controlling. You have the right to notice that ministers often quote scriptures out of context or fail to enforce or address the rest of the story that does not agree with the point they are trying to make.

You have the right to ask all the “how can that be,” “how could that happen,” “why does it say this here and that there,” questions you can come up and expect an intelligent answer. If you are told that you are using human reasoning, ask the pastor what kind of reasoning he uses. If he says “God's,” find another church.

You have the right to not want elders, deacons or your friends accompanying the minister on visits to your home to talk to you.

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You have the right to discuss or not discuss your life with the minister as you see fit.

You have the right to expect absolute confidentiality and for your story not to show up in the sermon next week, even though “I won't say the name.”

You have a right to be called ahead of time when the pastor wants to ask about stopping over.

You have the right, when he calls to say, “I'm tired,” “I'm busy,” “No, but I appreciate the call,” without repercussions.

You have the right to keep a dirty home, grass not mowed perfectly, an older car, red in color and kids that don't say “yes sir, nice to see you sir."

You have the right to watch and read what you wish even if the pastor just gave a sermon on “Satan in your books and TV set."

You have the right to ask the pastor not to call on you at work, even if you own the business.

You have the right to say, “I can't afford to take you to lunch.” “I can't afford to give you free wood or brick.” “I can't afford to fix your house up free,” “I can't fix all your teeth,” to your pastor should he expect professional courtesies, even if he offers to do your funeral free.

You have a right to expect free use of your church for weddings and funerals.

You have the right to expect these usages are not dependent on you, your parents or children living a sinless life six months prior to the date of the event.

You have the right not to answer questions your pastor may ask you or your children about your sexual practices. If he insists, then insist that you all share together.

You have the right to not let the pastor inform you as to who you can and cannot date or marry.

You have the right to not share which or if you are taking medications of any sort with the pastor and not be considered "weak" by the church, for taking them.

You have the right to seek professional help without informing your Pastor of the nature of the help and you have the right to not be helped solely by the pastor.

You have the right to insist the pastor get professional help should the need arise and the man is causing more harm than good. You have the right to remind him that God does not directly speak to him nor express His will only through the mind of the pastor and that makes you uncomfortable if he thinks that is so.

You have the right to be wrong about a many things.

You have the right to believe you are correct about many things without repercussions. You have the right not to care about everything that others think you must care about to be a good Christian.

You have the right to tell the pastor he is wrong, mistaken or exaggerating.

You have the right to dress as you wish, wear the jewelry you wish and make up you wish or not wish without being labeled a prostitute or a goody goody.

You have the right not to bear your soul to the ministers wife.

You have the right to like or not like, agree or not agree with the ministers wife.

You have the right to not view the world through the pastor's eyes morally or politically. You have the right to hate the war while he believes the war in Iraq is God's will and thinks it's all in the Bible.

You have the right to expect him to speak clearly where he thinks the Bible speaks for us today and to walk slowly and drink cool water where it doesn't.

You have the right to tell the pastor that that is his opinion and not necessarily the only true opinion on earth.

You have the right for you, your children, your partner and your friends to be themselves.

These are but a few of the rights any member of any Church, congregation or religious organization has. In short, you have the right to not be required to check your brains, your insights, your perspectives and your free will at the door to be welcome and a member of any church.



Dennis Diehl is a former pastor of 26 years,  who outgrew the Literalism of Fundamentalism.  He writes about Pastoral and Church abuse and is available to speak on such topics or be helpful to any church suffering under abusive (more...)

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Good points....    Basically it mea... by Bob Gormley on Wednesday, Jun 13, 2007 at 7:43:15 AM
Dennis, I agree with everything you listed above, ... by pratliff94 on Thursday, Jun 14, 2007 at 5:28:44 PM
I agree with what you say and was presenting the a... by Dennis Diehl on Thursday, Jun 14, 2007 at 7:09:08 PM
My son is a policeman. I am a minister. My son is ... by pratliff94 on Saturday, Jun 16, 2007 at 9:47:52 PM
Just a big thank you Dennis. I wish I had grown up... by Cynthia on Wednesday, Jul 25, 2007 at 3:46:18 PM