Struthers Memorial Church and the practice of banning





Clearly some churches as a bottom line have an exclusion policy which applies when people have committed criminal offences or have a proven history of violence or dealing in drugs, and their continued presence in church meetings may prove a danger to members. Other than in such extreme cases, banning people  from attending public meetings run by a charity is a very difficult thing to justify. There also needs to be policies in place to ensure that if it is practiced, it is done openly and with great care and concern for the person being dealt with.


Otherwise it can very easily become a convenient way for the leadership to get rid of people they find awkward or time consuming; who are only guilty of asking questions, seeing things differently from what the leaders would wish, or talking about things going on in the church that other people know they are not supposed to talk about.


As a publicly accountable Scottish charity with "the benefit of the public" in their charity objectives, we would invite the SMC leadership to answer the following questions:



  • Have people ever been banned from attending public meetings at SMC?


  • Are all bans permanent or are some temporary?


  • Who has the authority to ban someone? How is that authority given to them?


  • Are the leaders of each church given training in how to operate the SMC banning policy?


  • Does an SMC banning policy document exist so it is done the same way and on the basis of the same offences in each church? If so - do members have a copy so they know what the policy is?


  • Can members of the public who are thinking about joining SMC see a copy of that policy?


  • Does each SMC church decide their own banning policy?


  • What conduct has led to people being banned? Would everyone found guilty of this conduct be banned, or  just some people? For example, if someone was banned for drinking alchohol and the leader then discovered  one of their friends in the church also drank - would they then have to be banned as well ?


  • What is the process by which a leader would be banned, if discovered to have been guilty of the same misconduct as a banned member? Or would that be handled privately and differently?


  • Have children ever been banned from attending public meetings at SMC? How was this ban communicated  to their parents?


  • Are people banned to protect the membership, or to make life easier for the leaders by removing "difficult" people who just don't fit in?


  • Is it legal to ban people from meetings run by a charity, which has in its charitable objects that one of its purposes is to run meetings for "the benefit of the public"? Has the church received advice on this issue?


  • How long would records of a ban be kept in church files? What data protection security would be put in place to ensure the banned person's right to confidentiality was maintained?


  • Has anyone who has been banned from attending SMC meetings ever been told to keep the reasons for their ban a secret and be told they were not allowed to discuss the reasons for the ban with members or people outside the church? Would this be the normal practice?


  • Are members given any indication if it is okay for them to stay in contact with banned people?


  • How many people are currently banned from attending meetings in Struthers Memorial Church?


  • Without naming the people, please indicate the nature of the offences of which those currently banned were found guilty?