Church Sued Over Persecution Dramatization

The Forest Hill Baptist Church wanted its young people to understand the persecution that some Christians face in parts of the world that are not as religiously tolerant as the United States. But a $2 million lawsuit argues that the way it went about this crossed the line. According to a story in the Maryville, TN Daily Times,

The suit goes on to say the small groups were required to walk to one station and hike downhill to another. According to the suit, the girl “became concerned” when she saw law enforcement vehicles with their lights and sirens on, the person driving the group let them out and they were told to “sneak the back way” to the church fellowship hall.

. . .

The suit alleges that group members were blindfolded and handcuffed with Velcro, “dragged out” to the parking lot and told to climb in the back of a truck. According to the suit, Janie Doe fought back and pleaded to be let go but was laughed and yelled at by one of her alleged captors.

. . .

The suit alleges the group was told there would be “one chance to deny Christ, or you will be killed.” When Janie Doe refused to deny Christ, the suit says there was the sound of a gunshot and she was soaked with water, then she began “screaming and crying” before being told to go inside the residence of another church member.

There, the suit claims, she pleaded to have her handcuffs removed but several people acted as if they could not find the key. Once the cuffs were finally taken off, the girl’s wrists were “cut and bleeding, throbbing and swollen to nearly twice their normal size,” according to the suit.

Forest Hills Pastor Harry Sherrer tells the Daily news that Janie Doe and her family are the only ones to have complained, and that the others found the experience “very positive.”

I would think it would be pretty obvious to reasonable people that you do not put people through that sort of simulation without plenty of upfront disclosure followed by at least verbal consent to participate.


Church sued for $2 million over dramatic youth service. Anna Irwin, Daily News (Maryville, TN), June 13, 2003.

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