April 12, 2006
Lost in transition
Christian hypocrisy, exhibit #5,737:
ST. FRANCIS, Minn. - A church that refused to care for a woman who was once a man has found itself in the middle of a national debate over the role of faith-based social services.
The Anoka County Social Services Department has sent disabled seniors and other vulnerable adults who need care during the day to Trinity Lutheran Church in this town north of the Twin Cities. But when the county brought a woman who had begun life as a man to the conservative Missouri Synod church, the church refused to let her in. The county then refused to send any more clients to the church.
The Rev. John Maxfield, who says the church is now losing significant money on the program, is left to wonder what the future holds for faith-based government-supported social services. “It places the church in a difficult situation,” he said. “We want to minister to everyone. But this person’s outward behavior contradicts the church’s teaching.”
… A county social worker brought a woman from Fridley to the church on May 13, 2005. Tracy Curie, then the program’s director, showed her around, filled out all the forms - and assumed she would start 10 days later. Then the woman disclosed that she had formerly been a man.
“We felt taken by surprise,” Maxfield said. “Looking back on it, the county usually gives us a lot of information beforehand, but in this case there was not much at all.”
In declining to accept her, the church said its staff wasn’t trained to deal with such a person. It feared discomfort among members and other clients, not least over use of the bathroom. And it pointed to its own theological beliefs. What she has done, Maxfield said, runs totally “contrary to God’s revealed will.”
Really? So where exactly are God’s views on transsexuals revealed?
The dispute was finally resolved late last month. Under threat of having all of its low-income, county-paid clients withdrawn, the church signed a document agreeing it will keep its current clients but won’t get any more.
… Maxfield said, “This is causing us quite a bit of financial difficulty - a deficit of $30,000 last year. We covered it through the church budget, but our entire staff took a 10 percent pay cut this year, partly because of this program.”
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