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Member of the Hand
Church of Christ
Nurse and A Member
Marian Guinn, a member of the Church of Christ of Collinsville, OK, hand delivered her resignation to the minister after he told her he was going to excommunicate her for fornication.
The minister refused to honor the resignation, went ahead with the 'excommunication' and then announced it from the pulpit. Guinn sued and was awarded $390,000. On appeal the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled that Guinn's resignation was effective immediately and that anything the church or the minister did after the minister received Guinn's resignation was tortable. In other words, she could sue for anything they did after she resigned. The court ruled that with her resignation Guinn withdrew her consent to being treated as a member and she withdrew her consent to being subject to church discipline. Of extra importance is the fact that the court ruled that the right to freedom of religion also includes the right to unilaterally resign from a church. In several subsequent court cases the Mormon church has agreed to the principles established in Guinn.
A guest on the show was Marian Guinn, a divorced mother of four, a nurse, and a member of the Collinsville Church of Christ.
She had been having an affair with Pat Sharp, the former mayor in the tiny town of 3,500. When the three presiding elders confronted her, she admitted the affair with the understanding that her confession was to remain confidential. However, they insisted that she confess before the congregation. She refused. They gave her an ultimatum. If she "did not confess publicly in two weeks they would issue a formal statement to the congregation denouncing her 'fornication' and calling on members to 'withdraw fellowship' from her. Guinn testified: "I did everything but get down on my knees, pleading with them not to bring this before the congregation. ... I'm not saying I wasn't guilty. I was. But it was none of their business. She resigned from the church but the elders refused to accept it, announcing that "she would remain a member until they expelled her. They read the announcement, denouncing her for "fornication." She filed a $1.3 million lawsuit against the church and the three elders for invasion of privacy and for emotional distress. Her attorney's argument was, "He was a single man. She was a single lady. And this is America. The attorney for the elders took the position: "That is the belief of every denomination that I know of, that you just can't go around doing these things. The jury agreed with Guinn and awarded her $390,000 in damages; they specified additional damages, but both attorneys agreed on a maximum of $390,000. Norman listened attentively, frustrated that the show dealt so sketchily with the legal standing of Mrs. Guinn's situation.
Marian Guinn, a member of the Church of Christ, resigned from her Church.The Church refused to accept her resignation and denounced her for fornication in front of the whole congregation.She sued the Church for invasion of privacy and emotional distress, and was awarded $ 390,000. The Norman Hancock lawsuit (Mesa, Arizona, 1985) and the Darla Tarrant case Holladay, Utah, 1985).
One of them involved a woman named Marian Guinn.She sued the 160-member Collinsville Church of Christ back in the mid-1980's for $1.3 million dollars for exercising church discipline against her.She alleged an invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.According to the trial transcripts, Marian Guinn's sister was a church member and introduced her to the congregation.The church reached out to Marian in a loving and generous way.It moved her and her children to the community after she went through a divorce.It paid her rent for a period of time, took care of her utilities, gave food and clothing to her children.Marian Guinn joined the church and became a regular attender.While there she learned about the church's process for withdrawing fellowship from people who persisted in public sin.Sometime after Guinn joined the church, she began drifting away.It became public knowledge in that little bedroom community that she was having an affair with the town's former mayor, a man by the name of Pat Sharp.The church elders approached Guinn regarding the rumors on three different occasions and urged her to break off her relationship with this married former mayor.But she continued to maintain her relationship with the married man and the elders wrote to her calling her to repent or else they would report the matter to the congregation the following Sunday and request that they remove her from membership.The next Friday, two days before the congregational meeting, Marian Guinn sent a letter to the elders resigning her membership.But the elders, who believed they still had spiritual responsibility for Marian Guinn, reported the matter to the congregation.Her lawyer during the trial argued before the jury that it doesn't matter if Marian Guinn fornicated up and down the street [these were his literal words]; it's nobody else's business but hers.The jury of her peers apparently agreed, as did a sizeable portion of Tulsa's population.Most people felt that it was not the church's business to get involved in the private lives of its members.The jury awarded Marian Guinn $390,000.The Oklahoma Supreme Court later reversed the lower court on several of its rulings, but returned the case for retrial on an invasion of privacy charge.The church ended up settling out of court with Marian Guinn for an undisclosed sum.
Marian Guinn's soul was the issue, church leaders say, when elders of the Collinsville Church of Christ denounced her for adultery before the congregation and forbade 120 members to associate with her.But privacy was the issue when Marian Guinn's lawsuit against the elders went to trial in state district court.She sought $1.3 million, alleging invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress.Ms. Guinn, 36, is a nurse and divorced mother of four children.Her suit says that in October, 1981, three elders publicly denounced her for "the sin of fornication" and ordered church members to avoid her.In depositions and pretrial hearings, Ms. Guinn has acknowledged her relationship with Pat Sharp, a former mayor of Collinsville."It doesn't give the church the right to stick their noses in."We know that Ms. Guinn's lawyer is wrong.The true church not only has the right but she must "stick her nose in" when members fall into sin.E The true church, then, is recognized by the pure preaching of the gospel, the pure administration of the sacraments, and the practice of church discipline.