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Suing Good Samaritans
A few years back several states passed Good Samaritan laws, which stated that an individual could not be sued if while they were trying to rescue someone, that person was harmed.

So if you saw a burning car, and rushed in and hauled someone out before it went up in flames, and it turns out the victim had a broken neck and you made it worse, they couldn't turn around and sue you. You were trying to help. And without these good Samaritan laws, people were reluctant to intervene.

Seems like a good idea to me!

But the biggest Good Samaritan of all--churches--are still open for lawsuits.

I know some of this is controversial, and I'm very aware that it's not a black and white issue. The Catholic church, for instance, tolerated pedophiles as priests for far too long, and I understand those lawsuits. At the same time, to bankrupt entire dioceses which are providing food banks and inner city charity work seems excessive.

In my hometown today a Protestant church is being sued for $1 million by a parishioner who went for counselling. This church had a counselling ministry, and I'm not sure of the details of this case, but the man is claiming that the counsellors weren't adequately supervised.

On the front page of the paper today another woman says that she may now have the courage to come forward. It turns out that she and her ex-husband were counselled before they were married that marriage was a good idea, even though they had reservations. So they married. And divorced within four months. And she is blaming the church for telling her to get married.

Now again, I don't know the counsellors, or the church that well, or these individuals. But things like this bother me.

I understand that in counselling relationships there is a power imbalance. But at the same time, you are an adult and you are responsible for your actions. If someone advises you to get married, and you listen to them, you made that decision. You are responsible for it. You can't blame it on someone else!

I really hope this church survives these lawsuits, because they do a lot of good in our community. But many churches have gotten out of the counselling business altogether because of this threat of lawsuits.

And then what do we have? We have nowhere for people to turn when they need help with a difficult situation.

There are all kinds of laws like this. Many churches stopped having potlucks and church dinners a few years ago when the Ontario government changed the health regulations for the type of kitchen food needed to be prepared in. No longer could you cook it at home and then bring it in, because your home kitchen hadn't been inspected.

I understand the reason, but this is going overboard! People need the community that comes from church. They need the advice that comes from church. And the community needs the good works that churches do.

I am not saying that churches shouldn't be accountable if they hire people who are obviously dangerous or incompetent. But on the whole, people need to be responsible for their actions. I am an adult. If I choose to follow advice, that was my choice. If I choose to eat food that my friend Nancy made, that is my choice. I don't think we should just let these agencies, which do so much good, be ripped apart by lawsuits and regulations. It's strangling us.

And if all the Good Samaritans are gone, where will be?

To Love, Honor and Vacuum

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At 8:40 PM , Blogger Shaun and Holly said…

Excellent, excellent article!!!! Loved well written and you are expressing some of my very own frustrations exactly!
Thank you!!



At 4:27 PM , Blogger Tracey said…

I totally agree...people are sue happy! Don't blame someone else for your matter the expert...Dr. Phil need to make your own decisions.


At 11:22 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Your article is right on. My concern is that anyone can call our local paper, remain nameless and make any accusations they like while the church is unable to defend itself because of confidentiality. It makes the paper look more like a gossip rag than a newspaper. Could this have anything to do with the fact that the pastor's family until just recently owned and ran a competing newspaper in the area?


At 11:05 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

I am so happy that you have voiced this concern. I and many others have been changed forever for the good through the counselling ministry at the church you are speaking of. There are hundreds more stories like my own who could touch hearts across this region. It breaks my heart that this is what it's come to and it's ripping my heart out watching our church leaders suffer this scrutiny for doing nothing but trying to offer hope and healing to the broken.
God Bless you Sheila! It means a lot to us as a church that you have shared your thoughts on this when you don't even go to our church. It shows that you have a real heart for your community and realize the importance of Christ being at the center.


At 8:15 PM , Anonymous Magda said…

Thank you for your article and giving voice to the silent majority. I have been attending the church you mentioned for about 10 months now and have been so blessed by the pastoral hearts of the leaders. These leaders truly care about those God has entrusted to them and have laid down their lives to do so. I have also had counselling there and found it spiritually liberating and good for my soul, full of genuine love and care.


At 3:01 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said…

Didn't the counsellor in question own the paper, having taken it over from the Visser family? That is all the more damning.

With the Intell's subscription base around six thousand and the other paper's circulation 76 thousand, could it be more than concern for fragile fake victims that propels their article?


At 9:42 PM , Blogger lisa said…

Thank you for your article it was great. Feel bad for the people sueing the Church they must be so sad and hurting that's likely why they are trying to hurt others. I've been counselled their also and they were great and if i didn't like what they had to say i just said so. I wonder how they run their businesses if they can't make any decissions for themselves!
Thanks again, Lisa

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About Me

Name: Sheila

Home: Belleville, Ontario, Canada

About Me: I'm a Christian author of a bunch of books, and a frequent speaker to women's groups and marriage conferences. Best of all, I love homeschooling my daughters, Rebecca and Katie. And I love to knit. Preferably simultaneously.

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