Friday, July 11, 2008

Man Sues Church After Prayer Is Granted

This is funny. This is very funny. As our local news station reports, Matt Lincoln should have heeded that old saying about being careful what you pray for:
A Sevier County man is suing his former church in South Knoxville, after he claims he was overcome by the spirit, fell backward and hit his head.

Matt Lincoln, 57, says pastors at Lakewind Church should have made sure someone caught him. His attorney is asking for $2.5 million to cover medical bills, lost income and pain and suffering. The case stems from a Wednesday night service at Lakewind in June 2007, when a visiting minister was praying for members individually.

"I just closed my eyes. I was just asking God, I wanted to have a real experience. It's like you faint. It's almost like you pass out," Lincoln says. He also says that wasn't unusual. "I've fallen out in the spirit before, but have always been caught," Lincoln says. "I always trusted that the catchers would be there because they always were."

This time, he says, was different. "I hit. I hit full force backwards," he says.

After one year and two surgeries, Lincoln says he still hurts all the time. "It's pain in the back and it goes down my legs," he says. Lincoln says he only decided to file a lawsuit when his claim for medical bills was denied by the church's insurance company. ...

Lawyers for the church didn't want to go on camera, but say in an answer to the lawsuit that Lincoln was observed that night by other congregants to be on the floor laughing, that he failed to look out for his own safety and that court involvement with the ministry of this church would be unconstitutional.
So, to recap: Lincoln prayed for "a real experience," one that makes "you faint" and "almost... pass out". And he got it - he "fell out in the spirit" and "hit full force backwards". A terrifically "real experience". And now he's suing the church, because God cracked him over so hard.

Oh, he says it's because "pastors at Lakewind Church should have made sure someone caught him", but how are they to anticipate the way the Lord will work? Maybe people were 'falling out in the spirit' left and right and there couldn't have been enough catchers to cover them all - I mean, what if the catchers 'fell out in the spirit' too? Sounds to me like it's his God he ought to be suing; his God's the one who slammed him full force backwards onto the floor with nobody there to catch him.

And his pain and suffering? I don't doubt it's real, like his lost income and medical bills. But isn't it the will of his God? Surely if his God had wanted to slay him in the spirit he could have done it without injuring his body. Lincoln should be looking for the purpose here, not seeking someone to blame. God's will, after all, is done, isn't it? This is just another of those mysterious ways, one of those crooked lines with which God draws straight.

Or, deep down, doesn't Lincoln believe? Does he understand how stupid it is to keel over backwards onto a hard floor? Probably he's not starting to agree with those Christians who argue that "being slain in the Spirit" is not Christian, but Satanic in origin - or those who point out that the phenomenon of so-called "religious ecstasy" is seen in many religions around the world - Yoga, Hindi, Buddhism, Sufi Islam, Wicca and other pagan and neopagan traditions - as well as in secular settings.

What's crystal clear here is that he doesn't accept that what happened to him is the will of his God, even though it's pretty much exactly what he prayed for.



At 6:30 PM, July 11, 2008 Blogger fev had this to say...

Good thing he didn't try suing Great Cthulhu, huh? Nom nom nom.

At 7:57 PM, July 12, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous had this to say...

Matt Lincoln is an idiot. A very clumsy idiot.

At 2:38 PM, July 14, 2008 Blogger Frank Hagan had this to say...

Should Lincoln's religion give him less rights than any other injured party?

At 6:56 PM, July 14, 2008 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

I didn't say he shouldn't have rights. I didn't even say he shouldn't win his lawsuit.

I just said it was very funny that after getting just exactly what he prayed to get, he's suing because he didn't like the results.

In other words, no: his religion doesn't mean he has fewer rights. But it also doesn't mean I can't laugh at him.

At 8:23 PM, July 14, 2008 Blogger Frank Hagan had this to say...

But you are exactly wrong about his intention. He did not get "just exactly what he prayed to get". He got injured after getting it, due to the negligence of the church.

Compare the roller coaster rider who gets injured when the operator's negligence causes cars to slam together at the finish. The ride is predicated on providing scary moments. Do the riders get "exactly what they paid for" in that case?

At 9:29 PM, July 14, 2008 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Of course he didn't pray to get hurt. But he did pray to "fall out in the spirit" which even he said is "like you pass out" - and which means you go down hard enough to need to be caught to avoid injury.

Your contention is that the church should have had someone their to catch him. Maybe - though if you can predict so exactly who's going to go down it's kind of non-mystical if you ask me. But it seems to me that if you really believe in a God who'll knock you on your ass if you ask him to, you might want to accept that he can do it when no one's standing there to catch you.

At 10:45 PM, July 14, 2008 Blogger Frank Hagan had this to say...

You probably haven't seen anything like this up close, but "falling in the Spirit" or "being slain in the Spirit" usually involves the pastor coming up to the parishioner, praying with them, and then smacking them on the forehead lightly (their signal to fall down backwards). Ushers or "catchers" are supposed to be behind them.

There's a YouTube video of how it supposed to be done ... by Benny Hinn, one of the pastors who does this sort of thing. Its hard to watch, but the first 60 seconds shows what usually happens. See:

You'll note that the people "slain" are either slumping down into their chairs or, when they are up on stage, have spotters behind them, but there are a couple who could have gotten hurt. About 54 seconds in someone is up on stage, and the catchers are present.

I won't defend the practice (I think its an error), but I also don't want sincere people hurt. The least the multi-millionaire televangelists can do is provide the "catchers" and protect their parishioners from harm.

At 10:28 AM, July 22, 2008 Blogger Berlzebub had this to say...

@ Frank Hagan:
I grew up Pentecostal, with some Baptist thrown in, and never saw any "catchers". Each individual either knelt to pray, sat in their pew, or stood in the middle of the aisle.

Since they don't tell which denomination of Christianity Mr. Lincoln followed, you can't say anything is a "standard procedure".

At 10:37 AM, July 22, 2008 Anonymous Thomas had this to say...

This is a funny story, but Christians should be careful with this sort of thing. St. John writes that we should test the spirits. Some spirits are not of God; they are in fact of the Devil.

At 10:49 AM, July 22, 2008 Blogger Frank Hagan had this to say...

@ berlzebub:

The "catchers" are standard procedure for Lincoln's church; at least that is his contention in the lawsuit. His expectation, as indicated in the lawsuit, was that the church would provide the same "catchers" as they always had. In this case, he alleges the church was negligent and did not provide the catchers.

If the court determines Mr. Lincoln is right in his expectation, and that the standard procedure was to have catchers, it doesn't matter what denomination his church was, or whether or not he "asked for" an injury, etc. If the church normally provides catchers and then didn't, they could be liable.

If you are unfamiliar with the practice, and don't read the article carefully, you see it as ironic that someone would fall "voluntarily" and then sue. But the irony is not present because of the expectation that a safety device would be there. It is no different than a bungee jumper having the expectation that the operator would have clipped the bungee cord to the tower.

Now THAT would be funny! (Not.)

At 11:42 AM, July 22, 2008 Blogger Berlzebub had this to say...

@ Frank Hagan:
If Mr. Lincoln were bungee jumping, he should make sure that they had hooked up the cord. He would have to assume that they did so correctly, and he (or his family in a worst case scenario) could sue if it wasn't. However, someone getting to the top and jumping before the technicians had the chance to apply the appropriate safety measures would be responsible for their own negligence.

Mr. Lincoln made the mistake of assumption. He assumed that since there were people to catch him before, that there always would be. What if all of the catchers "fell into the spirit", or were so busy catching others that he was somehow overlooked? Isn't it his responsibility to make sure they are ready before he allows the "spirit" to overtake him?

At 1:15 PM, July 22, 2008 Blogger Frank Hagan had this to say...

@ Berlzebub:

The court will determine if Mr. Lincoln's expectation that the catcher would be there is reasonable or not. From my experience with lawsuits, the church is liable, just as the bungee jumping place would be if they didn't have sufficient safeguards in place to prevent a jumper from jumping before the bungee was attached. The mistake of "assumption" does not mitigate the church's responsibility at all; either the church is liable or it is not, regardless of whether or not Mr. Lincoln made a mistake of "assumption".

At 5:49 PM, July 22, 2008 Blogger Berlzebub had this to say...

Bungee jumping doesn't happen with multiple people at once. They have to get in line and wait their turn. "Falling" isn't something that can be anticipated, and as long as the church did everything they could, they shouldn't be held liable.

Unless they had atheists as "catchers", even the catchers were prone to "falling". Even then, if they were to follow their own beliefs, then they should anticipate that even atheists could do so.

Perhaps Mr. Lincoln took the voluntary action of some members of the congregation to be something provided by the church. Without knowing more information, we can't make that judgement.

So, you're experience with lawsuits is moot.

At 6:19 PM, July 22, 2008 Blogger Frank Hagan had this to say...

@ Berlzebub:

Mr. Lincoln alleges that the customary practice was for the church to provide "catchers". He could be wrong, or he could be lying, but as you've said, we cannot know that until its ruled on by the courts.

I am evidently the only person commenting on this practice who has witnessed it and knows it origins, etc. I have seen this done hundreds of times.

The person "falling" does so at a particular time, usually initiated by the pastor smacking the person on the head or pushing him over (refer to the You Tube link I provided earlier). This is a very common practice in churches such as those run by the Toronto Blessing, Benny Hinn, etc. Wikipedia even has an article on it at where it says:

"On occasions of public prayer ministry when the laying on of hands is practiced, church members or attendees come forward to the front of the church to receive a special work of the Holy Spirit from the Pastor, service leader or a team of ministers. Often a significant amount of time is spent singing and praying during the church service before this point. Attendees are then prayed over and touched by the service leader or leaders, they perceive the Spirit of God upon them, and they fall, usually onto their backs. In most cases, their fall is broken by deacons, catchers, ushers or orderlies behind them to prevent injury."

So, based on the facts we do have, we can surmise that Mr. Lincoln had an expectation that the church would take seriously their duty to protect the "invitee" (Lincoln) from injury because they knew or should have known that he would fall backwards. Even Wikipedia cites a regular practice of having someone to catch the people so afflicted. Because it is known to be a normal practice to catch people falling, the church could be found negligent even if they never, ever had someone to catch him before because that is the normal standard.

The blog post makes the assumption that being "slain in the spirit" and falling backward is a spontaneous event, but as the Wiki article and the You Tube video I linked shows, it is an event coordinated between Pastor and participant. And its done every night in some places, and done the same way.

At 9:00 AM, July 23, 2008 Blogger Berlzebub had this to say...

@ Frank Hagan:
After rereading it, it seems you are correct. They don't directly speak of the procedure you describe, but they do imply it by talking about the "visiting minister was praying for members individually".

However, I have personally attended a church where those "falling" were not being touched by the preacher. I've seen such as you describe a few times, but the churches I grew up with didn't require an intermediary to "fall".

Still, from the bits and pieces from the article, it seems that the Lakewind Church practices the way you describe.

Of course, the fault could be with the visiting minister.

At 2:02 PM, February 13, 2009 Anonymous Anonymous had this to say...

I'm Matt Lincoln and after reading over 300 comments on some of these blogs I felt that I had to say a few things. First, the report that I was on the floor laughing that night is false. On several previous occasions I had laughed with the joy of the Lord. Sometimes I would weep under the power of the Lord. Sometimes I would lie quietly. But on this night in question I laid on the floor unable to move for over 20 minutes. Next, this case was never intended to be a lawsuit. When I found out from the Neurosurgeon the approximate costs, I made a claim on the church's insurance for $200,000, the minimum amount of the surgeries. To date the cost for the first two has exceeded $175,000. The claim I entered was only for the medical costs. I wanted no extra money nor did I ask for any. But the insurance company refused to award me anything so I retained an attorney to negotiate with the insurance company on my behalf, which he did and they refused him also. He told me that we would have to sue to get the money. I agreed and he wrote up the papers and called me when they were ready to sign. We never discussed the amount, nor did we ask that my wife be included. These matters he decided. When I went to his office to sign the papers I was surprised at the figure and also that it included my wife. But being that we were 35 hours from the one-year deadline to file suit, I agreed to the terms that he had drawn up. There was no time to change everything; I just agreed. Now that I have read so many condemning, negative and hateful comments I have dropped the lawsuit. I told my attorney that out of over 300 comments there was only one that agreed with me and the rest of the comments claimed that I was everything from a liar, a charlatan, a thief, under the influence of Satan, was going to go to Hell, needed to repent, didn't have faith, got what I asked for, and on and on. I have never experienced such hatred towards me, and my wife. And such judgment. I have been tried and convicted in so many people's minds. So I told my attorney that I didn't see how he could find an impartial jury because 99.7% of the comments I read were against me, and from people who don't even know me. They judged me by a semi-correct account of the incident that started on The Smoking Gun. My attorney agreed that it was a complicated case and there were obstacles to overcome. So I dropped it. By the way, the surgeries that I've had so far are one on my left wrist for the carpal tunnel syndrome that started after the injury. That was minor and ineffective. The major surgery was putting two titanium steel rods, their holders, a "cage", and bolting it all to my tailbone and to the next several vertebrae. The injury caused by my fall was a fractured vertebra at my waist (not my neck), and this vertebra was also knocked out of the spinal column, and 4 discs were ruined. I am now in constant, intense, horrible pain and can't work much at all. After an hour or two of any activity, even just sitting, I close down in pain spasms. Where I used to be a very active person, now my favorite activity is lying on a heating pad. My life, as well as my family's life, has been completely ruined. And now, because of all of these horrible comments on the Internet, my reputation is all but ruined. Anybody who knows me personally knows that I am truthful, generous, and willing to help anybody in my business. I would go the extra mile for anybody who needed me to. I'm nothing like what these comments have portrayed me as. And as for those "Christians" who have judged me and told me to repent of my sin, read Matthew 7:1. As for those who told me that if I had "ought against a brother take it up with the saints of the church", well, I did. I called the Pastor several times. What he offered me was to buy me an order of groceries since I was hurt and out of work. This is a Pastor to whose church my wife and I had tithed and offered almost $60,000 in the 12+ years we were members. My wife taught at their school for a year for no pay whatsoever. Not even gas money. I taught their Bible College part-time for a year with no compensation. I also went to band rehearsals 1&1/2 hours early every Sunday AM and again on Sunday PM for 10 years. We helped out on many events and occasions. We truly volunteered our lives to serve God through this church. And when I talked to the "saint" about my injuries, he offered me a bag of groceries. Didn't even offer to pay one bill, or even to give me one dollar. So that's what happened when I "took it up with the saints". Also, on one blog I read where the preacher that prayed for me that night denied it and called me a liar. There are several people who go to that church who gave statements to the insurance investigator that they did see him pray for me and did see me fall. The insurance investigator told me that. There are witnesses to the entire event. But it's over now. I've dropped the lawsuit. All I ever wanted was for the medical bills to be paid. But that's something that I have to do alone. I'm also unable to afford the other two surgeries, one for the right wrist and one for the neck for a bulging disc caused by the fall. This is the injury that aggravated a "pre-existing injury", which was a neck fusion done in 1994. The injury to my lower back is the worst kind of pain and I think that's why my attorney asked for such a large amount in the lawsuit. He knew that I would never be well again. But the mental pain is almost as bad. Now, thousands of people hate me, hate my wife, and the church "family" I had for so many years never even visited me once, either before the lawsuit was filed or since. I just wanted to state the facts and attempt to clear my reputation. Thank you for reading this.

At 7:20 PM, February 13, 2009 Blogger Frank Hagan had this to say...

Matt - I am so sorry you have to endure this, and to be honest, I'm ashamed that even some well meaning Christians have dissuaded you from seeking your legal rights in this case.

It is obvious that the people here don't know you, but because your name is in the public record now, you will be the recipient of hate speech and "unintended hate speech". Most of the comments don't stem from what you did personally, but from a few details on the Internet. A fact about human nature is that we "fill in the gaps" whenever we consider something, and in this case, people were jumping to conclusions all over the place (as shown in my comments above).

There are normal procedures for things, and that includes lawsuits. Because lawsuits are negotiations, the plaintiff lawyers will always ask for everything possible they can get ... even the embarrassing "loss of consortium". In the process, even if a judgment is granted, the high awards are negotiated down (usually). I suspect you had a good case with a jury, or even in arbitration, had the lawsuit gone forward.

What is ironic is that the people giving an opinion about your case were acting with incomplete information ... another way of saying they were ignorant. Many of the posters were likely atheists who pride themselves on thinking rationally, being "brights" and not reacting emotionally. But all of us were commenting from a standpoint of ignorance, a decidedly un-scientific position to be in. Those that have the capacity for shame or embarrassment may apologize to you.

I hope my comments above, trying to clarify how the church was indeed responsible in some measure for your injuries, was helpful to you a bit. I apologize for any fuel I've added to the fire.

God bless and good luck with coping with your pain and expenses. I will add you to my prayers.

At 7:33 PM, February 13, 2009 Blogger The Ridger, FCD had this to say...

Mr Lincoln:

I'm sorry if my post - based on the newspaper reporting - added to your pain. I don't hate you, though I don't understand you.

At 10:41 PM, February 26, 2009 Anonymous Anonymous had this to say...

Ok Matt you said your vertebra was knocked out of the spinal column, but if it were you would be paralyzed unable to walk etc.. You are just an example of how the world is going to HELL it is never to late to repent and ask forgiveness...


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