In an earlier post I talked about the news story from Florida that a pastor had received threatening notes because he removed the US and "Christian" flags from their display in his church's place of worship. For the safety of his family the pastor has taken a 4 week leave of absence and has presumably left the vicinity.
One of the notes left (and my guess is that they were anonymous notes - the sign of a coward) implied that if he didn't resign the writer would ensure that rumors would be generated and spread about him.
Pardon me while I puke.
Regardless of whether or not the pastor made the right or wise choice to remove the flags, there is a greater concern here. The Bible - and Baptists supposedly are people of "the Book" - spells out how to handle differences between believers. Guess what? Rumors and threats are not part of the plan. Jesus' own instructions were for the offended to go to the offender and for the two of them to find a way to reconcile their differences.
No one, certainly not God, gives anyone the right to use scare tactics in the church. And those who do so are less than Christian in their behavior. Apparently those upset by the pastor's decision not to display the flags are in the minority. My guess is that this church is typcial of most other baptist churches and is governed by a democratic majority. If so, then no threat is necesarry. Just bring up a motion to dismiss him and let the congregation vote him out. But if the necessary votes would not be there, then perhaps threats will get the job done.
Can you envision Jesus leaving a note in someone's hymnal or mailbox like this? I don't think so.
I hope somehow the police identify those who made the threats. Whether or not sufficient grounds exist for criminal prosecution (that depends on Florida law), certainly grounds exist for the threateners to be disciplined by the church.
Will the pastor return? Who knows? Perhaps if the church's leaders took a strong stand against the purveyors of fear and intimidation he could return and continue on as their pastor. The issue is not whether or not the pastor did the right thing in removing the flags. It sounds like he attempted to be understood and to understand those who disagreed with him. This is an issue of control by a minority who seek to irreparably harm someone's reputation.
Shame on them. There are right ways and there are wrong ways. They've chosen the latter. And now another church gets a black eye.