LawCall - Cross

Your pastor of 23 years stands up before the congregation one Sunday morning to deliver his sermon. The choir has sung, the collection plate passed, and you’re ready for the main event.

Pastor begins his sermon, and by the time he is finished, you learn that he has AIDS, and that he has been using drugs, even on church grounds. You also learn that he has been sleeping around with some of the congregation members. You’d have to admit – that’s a lot to hear from your preacher on a Sunday morning.

Well, that’s exactly what congregants of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama heard from their pastor, Reverend Juan McFarland. To say they were shocked is a vast understatement.

McFarland was temporarily banned from the church in October, when a judge issued a preliminary injunction, which had been sought by the deacons and trustees of the church. This required the scorned preacher to turn in his church keys and church-provided Mercedes and to stay away from the church.

The reverend laid bare his transgressions in a series of sermons that he delivered in August and September. Some of the stunned parishioners called for McFarland to be thrown in jail, while others had themselves tested for AIDS.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit say that the congregation voted to fire McFarland after his confessions, but that he refused to leave. He allegedly changed the locks at the church and how the church’s bank accounts could be accessed.

At first, the church tried to help their pastor, but it soon became evident that he didn’t want their help. He said that God told him to confess his sins. Members then took the vote to fire him.

Circuit Judge, Charles Price, says he will rule by next week on whether McFarland can return to Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, or whether a temporary ban from the church will become permanent.

Should the courts be involved in church matters? What say you?

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