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The Cooper family
After 60 years of attendance, a Tennessee woman and two of her family members have been kicked out of the Ridgedale Church of Christ. What could they have done to warrant such a ban? Linda Cooper sat next to her gay daughter, a police detective with 11 years of service, while she spoke at a hearing on whether the Collegedale, Tennessee police department should allow same-sex benefits:
Elders at Ridgedale Church of Christ told Linda Cooper and two relatives that their public support for Kat Cooper, Linda Cooper's gay daughter, went against the church's teachings, local media reported. In a private meeting, reports say, Linda Cooper was given a choice: publicly atone for their transgressions or leave the church.

Linda left the church.

Kat Cooper is a detective with the Collegedale Police Department. This month, she fought successfully for health benefits for her same-sex spouse, Krista, from the town.

The Board of Commissioners passed a resolution allowing for same-sex partner benefits, becoming the first city in Tennessee to do so.

More on the ban below the fold.

More from the Chattanooga Free Times Press:

Cooper's mother, Linda, stood by her side throughout the process. She held tight to her daughter's hand at a July meeting over the issue. And the two embraced after the City Council's 4-1 vote on Aug. 5.

But those small acts of support translated into collateral damage that left Linda Cooper and other relatives separated from their church family of more than 60 years. And one local advocate for gay families says the church's stance was the most extreme he's heard of in years.

Ridgedale Church of Christ minister Ken Willis:
But the family's support of Kat Cooper was as good as an endorsement of homosexuality, said Ken Willis, minister at Ridgedale Church of Christ.

"The sin would be endorsing that lifestyle," Willis said. "The Bible speaks very plainly about that."

Willis, a father himself, said the church didn't expect the Cooper family to disown their daughter.

"But you certainly can't condone that lifestyle, whether it's any kind of sin -- whether they're shacked up with someone or living in a state of fornication or they're guilty of crimes," he said. "You don't condone it. You still love them as a parent."

Krista Cooper, Kat's wife, had this to say:
"Just as my parents have kicked me out of their lives and don't want anything to do with me. This is exactly what this church has done to Kat's mom, uncle and aunt," says Krista.
You can see an interview with the Cooper family here.

With compassion like this, is it any wonder that more Americans are leaving religion behind?

Researchers at University of California Berkeley and Duke University report religious affiliation in the U.S. is at its lowest point since it began to be tracked in the 1930s. During a survey taken last year, one in five Americans claimed they had no religious preference. Researchers said that's more than double the number reported in 1990.

Originally posted to Scout Finch on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 08:01 AM PDT.

Also republished by Street Prophets , Three Star Kossacks, and Daily Kos.

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