According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal, critics of Scientology bombarded the newspaper with "scathing e-mails and phone calls" to protest an article mentioning the appearance of a Scientology minister at the memorial.
Hayes was an outspoken Scientologist and helped found the Memphis Church of Scientology. However, many of the angry letters described Scientology as a cult that has no business inside of a church.
Responding to the outcry, Hope Presbyterian and Hayes' family issued statements describing the event as a tribute rather than a memorial, saying it was intended as an homage to the soul legend, who died Sunday at 65, and not a religious service.
"Friends of many faiths and traditions will join the family to pay tribute to the music legend and reflect upon his life through speeches, musical performances, photos and video clips." said a statement released by the family.
Craig Strickland, senior pastor of Hope Presbyterian in Cordova, said today's event at 11 a.m. will not include a casket or remains and a separate funeral is being planned at an undisclosed location.