On a quiet Sunday morning in June, as worshippers settled into the pews at Allen Baptist Church in southwestern Michigan, Pastor Jason Burrick grabbed his cellphone and dialed 911. When a dispatcher answered, the preacher said a former congregant was in the sanctuary. "And we need to, um, have her out A.S.A.P."
Half an hour later, 71-year-old Karolyn Caskey, a church member for nearly 50 years who had taught Sunday school and regularly donated 10% of her pension, was led out by a state trooper and a county sheriff's officer. One held her purse and Bible. The other put her in handcuffs. (Listen to the 911 call )The charge was trespassing, but Mrs. Caskey's real offense, in her pastor's view, was spiritual. Several months earlier, when she had questioned his authority, he'd charged her with spreading "a spirit of cancer and discord" and expelled her from the congregation.
-- "Banned from Church," WSJ, Jan 18, 08
By the way, Mrs. Caskey questioned the pastor's authority by asking him to adhere to the church's charter.
The whole article is on how some Protestant churches are reviving the art of "church discipline," which basically amounts to kicking someone out of a congregation for anything from adultery to asking for the church's financial records. Frankly, I find this deeply disturbing. As any one of a number of recent scandals have shown, the people who run churches are only all too human. Being told to submit to their authority as a stand-in for God makes me very uneasy about the potential for abuse.