Olivia Blair, a 93-year-old Houston woman who recently passed away after months in a coma, was refused burial by a local pastor because she hadn’t attended church while sick or paid recent tithes.
Barbara Day, the woman’s daughter, indicates that pastor Walter F. Houston would not grant her mother burial at Fourth Missionary Baptist Church despite Blair being a church member for 50 years.
Day says the reason her mother did not pay dues or attend church during the past two years was because she was sick, explaining that, “For the last two years, my mother has been in either a nursing home or she’s been in a hospital. And the last few months, she was in a coma!”
She also lamented that the church only cared about “money,” saying that even retail stores were more respectful of customers and that she didn’t “understand why we’ve become so commercialized with religion! What does this have to do with God? Why can’t I give my mother her last wish to be funeralized in a church that she loved so much?”
Barbara Day said the situation “was like the last insult in the world,” and also indicated that the refusal left her scrambling around town to make alternate funeral arrangements.
Pimp Preacher’s Tyrone Jacques followed up with Pastor Houston, asking if it was okay to have the funeral on a day when the church was closed, with Jacques footing the bill for the service. Houston refused, telling Jacques, “Membership has its privileges.”
In response to the incident, Pimp Preacher has launched the Olivia Blair Project, which seeks to draft Congressional legislation aimed at curbing what the site calls “predatory tithing laws.”