Good to see your comments about this. It is good to know there are people willing to enter into the discussion and defend the position rather than hide away somewhere say, "I don't need to talk to you - I know I am right."
I am not so sure about what you mean by "advice" however. In an earlier post I mentioned a site I came across (http://www.latigo214.info/index.html) which states it's purpose as,'To place in the public domain information and articles for people who have questions about the practices, teaching and beliefs of Struthers Memorial Church." One of the articles on that site is about the abomination sermon preached in a Struther's Church (see [www.latigo214.info
]). Is this the kind of "advice" you refer to? I must admit I have some concerns if this is what is meant by offering advice.
In the course of my career, I have ended up managing a variety of disciple and grievance procedures. I have worked with very senior managers, HR managers, full-time union officials, HR consultants, independent investigators and the police when dealing with a whole range of issues from the fairly trivial to the criminal. I therefore have very credible experience in dealing with these sorts of matters across the public, private and third sectors. In all of my experience, there has to be a recognition of two different aspects of the issues - the underlying issue and the process used. For example, if you think of a surgeon being drunk on duty, a counsellor abusing a client or an accountant embezzling money, I would expect everyone to agree these are examples of gross misconduct (taken form the private, public and third sectors for completeness) and have to be dealt with. No argument there (I hope!)
How it is dealt with is also important however. If the senior manager choses to ignore standard good practice and instead to publicly chastise the individual about something, for example using the words of the abomination sermon quoted at the above web address, any industrial tribunal in the land would agree this was bullying - especially if there was no agreed policy about the issue (i.e no stated policy on alcohol in this case).
There are of course good reasons for this - it is recognised that the "abomination sermon" approach is NOT "giving advice" but is in fact unconscionable bullying. I know it is not your personal opinion, but according to a substantial and uncontested body of research, this does lead to conformity through fear.
That is a bit of an aside however . My main point is that, even if something is wrong, there are good ways and bad ways to go about dealing with it. So, leaving aside the question of whether drinking alcohol is right or wrong, and leaving aside the question of whether the 3 people identified in the sermon acted correctly by expressing their opinions about alcohol, there is still an issue about how it was dealt with, which is really central to your point about whether the leadership offers "advice" or something that would by many be considered even stronger than direct instruction.
The questions I have are:
Does Struther's Church accept that the approach taken to correct this (apparently) aberrant behaviour ("the abomination sermon") would, in any work situation, be considered as potential bullying and that the leader would be subjected to a disciplinary enquiry? If not, I would love to see the argument and any examples where tribunals have taken a different view - it would certainly add to my own professional development.
If you do agree that this would, in any employment situation, be subject to an investigation into bullying the question is whether Struthers adopts this industrial standard into their own practice.
Please do try to separate out these two aspects. The first is about whether Struthers accepts that this kind of action would be subject to a disciplinary enquiry in the world of employment. The second is whether you chose to adopt this process in to your own organisation. These are separate questions.
I confess I will be totally amazed if anyone tries to dispute the first of these points, as it really is universal accepted. That does not make it right of course - which is why we need the second question. So, assuming that you accept point 1 above, i.e. that it would, in a work context, lead to the preacher being subject to a disciplinary enquiry, the question is, how does this apply within Struthers? Specifically:
Does Struthers agree that point 1 above is not just standard practice, but is GOOD practice, and therefore aspire to applying it in their own organisations? If so, I expect that there will be a disciplinary enquiry and that the sermon will be removed from the website pending the outcome of this enquiry.
If you do not agree that is the correct approach, there is another problem, as Struthers has a number of related ventures including coffee shops, bookshops and a school. If the leadership of the church do not accept the need for an anti-bullying policy and processes to enforce this, staff in all of these organisations need to know that any issues will be dealt with in some other way. If the church believes that the correct way to deal with non-conformist behaviour is to publicly identify and chastise individuals, then I presume they would want to use this alternative "best practice" in their school and other ventures. Is this the position adopted by Struthers and its satellite organisations?
Finally, QUESTION 4
You said leaders, "only offer advice". As the abomination sermon is currently still available on the Struthers website, I presume that it is currently an accepted part of the doctrine and practice of the church. Are you happy to include this sermon within your definition of "only offering advice"?
Apologies if I have somewhat laboured the point here. Thanks for bearing with me as I tried to explain what I was getting at. This shouldn't really be a difficult argument to follow, so sorry if I have made it more complex than it needs to be. It is basically quite simple:
1 You say the leaders only, "offer advice"
2 There is a published sermon which identifies and chastises individuals.
3 In an employment context this would not be considered offering advice, it would be considered as bullying.
4 (Question 1 above) Do you accept point 3 above and, if so, how do you link this with your comment that it is "only advice" that is offered (Question 4 above)?
5 (Question 2 above) WIll Struthers apply standard industry practice by launching a disciplinary enquiry into something that is, on the surface at least, "corporate bullying"?
6 (Question 3 above) If not, will you explain the alternative Struthers model of personnel management and how this is applied to employees of church ventures?
There are a number of other issues I might mention, but I do not want to make this too lengthy at this point. It is however possibly worth mentioning that your initial YES/ NO answers disagree strongly with Hugh Black's view. I think I still have the tape of his sermon on perfection. In it he clearly states that he agrees with John Wesley doctrine of Christian Perfection. If you have studied Methodist doctrine at all (which Hugh Black had), you will know that two of your five statements are in disagreement with this, and therefore in disagreement with Mr Black's stated and considered view. So who represents the official Struthers view, has it changed over time, or are such statements purely random?
I look forward to your response and, most seriously, thank for being part of the debate. There are a lot of people out there still hurting through the actions of people in Struthers, and it will really help them if there is an opportunity to get some answers. I know it is easy to use phrases like "a lot of people"without any substantiation, but I would suggest that you simply hang around and try to answer these questions. If you do so, I think you will find quite a number of people wanting to hear more.
All the best to everyone reading this thread,