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The Most Evil Words Ever Spoken. . .

OK, OK, I’ll admit it: The headline is rather sweeping and strident. I mean, I’m not going to argue that there could never be slightly more evil words spoken somewhere, sometime by someone.
Granted the plethora of inappropriate words that might be used, there’s room for debate as to whether these are categorically the “most evil words ever spoken.”
But before I actually share the most evil words themselves, I need to paint a picture of the context in which these evil words are used so evilly.
At all levels of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, decisions are made that affirm or destroy human lives––at least emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. When a member or church employee is charged with misconduct, the matter is usually addressed by some duly authorized body.
Of course, the duly authorized body works behind closed doors. The information is privileged, after all. Under no circumstances would any member of such a body even consider sharing the facts with those who aren’t duly authorized to know. That would be unethical. It would betray the trust inherent in being part of such a group.
So the members of the group––be it a church board, a school board, an institutional board, a conference executive committee or an array of other church decision-making entities, even at division and General Conference level––remain circumspect in what they’ll tell curious onlookers.
After they’ve in varying degrees played the game of “20 Questions,” they’ll often––far too often––make a statement such as: “There are things that I’m not at liberty to say.” And this statement comes in a variety of permutations.
For my money, using such words should lead to on-the-spot summary dismissal from employment for any church employee. And using such words should lead to either censure or disfellowshipping for church members (if there’s no repentance). Using such evil words should be on a par with adultery, embezzlement, child molestation and a long list of other evils that no one but the devil himself would try to excuse.
“Oh, come on! Don’t be silly!” I hear you say. “It’s not that big a deal to hint at things you can’t––for ethical reasons––actually say.” Maybe it’s no big deal for you––when you’re not on the receiving end, that is. But think about it.
If you’re accused of a specific misdeed, you can at least try to refute the allegation. Both you and all who’ve heard about it know what you’re being accused of. I’m not saying openly stated allegations aren’t bad. But at least they’re concrete. And you may even be able to win a defamation suit, should it come to that.
Innuendo is a different animal altogether. I mean, what is the hinted-at accusation, actually? Is it that the alleged miscreant murdered his mother? Abuses puppies? Or simply takes too much delight in killing mosquitoes? There’s no way of knowing. That’s why such open-ended words are so evil.
And the people who speak them are evil, too. Did you know that it’s almost universally recognized that people who use such words also routinely participate in another unbelievably vile practice?––the exact nature of which I’m not at liberty to say.
James Coffin is senior pastor of the Markham Woods Church of Seventh-day Adventists in Longwood, Florida.

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