Sunday, July 1, 2007

Peggy Penley and Buddy Westbrook

Buddy Westbrook is pastor for Crossland Community Bible Church. He had a member Peggy Penley who decided to start an adulterous relationship and then divorce her husband. Westbrook provided marital counseling and then used this information as part of a discipline case.

What's interesting on this case is the issue of standards. In the secular world people are very careful about confidentiality issues and conflicts of interest. It would be obvious to any counselor thinking secularly that Westbrook would need to get either a general waiver or specific permission to act in a pastoral manner based on information provided in counseling. In fact the commentary on was that this was a good example of why pastors should not get secular counseling licenses. Liberty Legal which is council for Westbrook sees this as a simple first amendment issue.

What's not mentioned in the story though is that the suit is for violation of the Texas Licensed Professional Counselor Act. She dropped the church and its elders as defendants. Source: Texas Council on Family Violence .

What could make for interesting discussion is the obligations regarding Christians who come into possession or understanding of knowledge through other roles. What should be the process for incorporating that knowledge into discipline related issues?

There is an updated version of this article with the court's ruling

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