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Church tells 84-year-old woman she can’t be buried next to husband because she missed services

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In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the Prodigal Son. In the story, a son leaves his father and travels far away. When he returns, his father doesn’t punish him for his absence but instead throws a celebration simply to rejoice that the young man has returned.

The Bible parable, which is meant to encourage fallen-away followers to return to the faith by promising they will only be met with joy, raises questions about the actions of a Minnesota church that punished an elderly church member for failing to attend services — by telling her she couldn’t be buried next to her deceased husband unless she returned, Fox9 reports.

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Darleen Pawelk, 84, had been a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church for five decades, but recently stopped attending because she has developed disagreements with the congregation, the station reports. Regardless, she had already paid for the burial plot beside her spouse on church grounds.

“Since you have ignored our efforts to reach you, and have failed to return to your Lord Jesus in the Divine Service to receive from Him the gifts of His Word, and Holy Supper given from God to us that we may have forgiveness and life, you have self-excluded,” the letter reads. “Scripture is clear about those who remain in unrepentance. Your soul is in mortal danger.”

Below it says that since she has “self-excluded, you are no longer eligible to be buried” at either of the church’s two cemeteries.

Pawelk’s grandson, Joshua Mason, was so upset, he posted the letter the church sent Pawelk to social media.

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“The Lutheran Church wants to call them selves Christians? My Grandma is 84 effing years old. Her soul is in danger? She can’t be buried in a plot she already payed for? Scum bags,” he wrote.

The church has since recanted. They now say she can be buried next to her husband.

Church leaders said sending Pawelk the letter was a mistake, and they meant to send her one saying she was no longer a member of the congregation after she expressed disagreement to the pastor.

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“It was a mistake and we’ve been deeply apologetic and reached out to the family and we hope even today they will sit down with us,” Pastor LeRoy LePlant told Fox9.

But her family wants the church to apologize.

“It’s their church and there’s no verse in the bible that says you must have communion four times a year or you are not going to go to heaven,” daughter Brenda Mason told the station.

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Read the full letter, as posted by the Friendly Atheist, here:

Posted by Joshua Mark Mason on Saturday, January 30, 2016

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Watch the report from Fox9, here:

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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Former Overstock CEO tells Fox News the Feds wanted him to sleep with Russian spy Maria Butina

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Longtime Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne resigned on Thursday after issuing a bizarre press release that caused the company's stock to tank.

Byrne then went on Fox News to claim that federal officials urged him to have a romantic relationship with Russian spy Maria Butina.

He claimed that the government told him they never asked citizens to engage in romantic relationships, but it was "such a national security risk" that the government asked Byrne, then in his fifties, to sleep with Butina, who was at the time in her twenties and half his age.

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‘He does not belong in this office’: Ron Reagan says Trump ‘has been crazy because he is crazy’

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The son of Republican President Ronald Reagan blasted President Donald Trump on MSNBC on Tuesday.

Ron Reagan, Jr. was interviewed on "Hardball" by Chris Matthews.

The host recounted Trump's attacks on Denmark after they said Greenland was not for sale.

"He wants to fight with everybody, including the quiet, American-loving Danes. What’s up?" Matthews asked.

"Well, it’s craziness, but I take a little umbrage at this idea that we have to ascribe it to something like the economy or his anxiousness about re-election. He’s acting the way he’s acting because he is who he is and what he is," Reagan replied.

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Trump may look unstable now — but the economy is going to make him much worse: CNN’s April Ryan

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "OutFront," analyst and American Urban Radio Network Washington bureau chief April Ryan walked through how President Donald Trump backed himself into a corner by trying to build his brand on a great economy — and is coming to pieces as a result.

"April, what are you hearing? Is the economy causing the president's erratic behavior?" asked anchor Kate Bolduan.

"Yes, yes, and yes," said Ryan. "This president has been touting a great economy, and this is the cornerstone since I guess since the very beginning of his administration for people to feel that he should win re-election, that he is firmly planted for the American public and he's working for them," said Ryan. "But indicators, non-traditional indicators, are saying something different. He is having a hard time trying to marry the great economy with what it looks like for the American public, particularly the grassroots."

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