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by Abigail Van Buren

Woman Finds That Pillars of Church Have Feet of Clay

DEAR ABBY: Your advice to the Arizona woman whose family was banned from the church was right. You told her to complain to someone higher in the church. However, I hope she had better luck than I had.

I am a member of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. The new pastor of my church did not know me, but she refused to speak to me; in effect, she ostracized my children and their terminally ill father from their congregation.

Apparently, my "sin" was providing shelter to another pastor who had two children, no job, no place to live and very little money. When I complained to the bishop, I was told that since I had given the appearance of having "traduced" (defamed or slandered) my marriage vows, my family could be treated whichever way the pastor wanted.

The head of the church refused to comment on the matter, saying this was a local issue, and he chose not to get involved. The local synod council did not respond at all.

Abby, please tell your readers that all clergy are human beings. By definition, 50 percent are below average, and sometimes you hit the bottom 10 percent. If the clergy do not practice what they preach, run -- do not walk -- to the nearest exit, and let them know why you are running away. -- NEW JERSEY

DEAR NEW JERSEY: What an eye-opener my mail has been this week! Most of us were raised to believe that all members of the clergy are somehow closer to God, and therefore superior beings. But, alas, they too are only human.