One of them involved a woman named Marian Guinn
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
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
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
to repent or else they would report the matter to the congregation the following Sunday and request that they remove her
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.