An Alabama pastor who shocked his congregation with admissions of drug-taking and having sex on church premises has been barred from his church by court order.
Rev Juan D McFarland is pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery. He made headlines when made a series of lurid confessions to his his congregation, including telling them that he had AIDS. He refused to accept an 80-2 vote calling for him to be dismissed and retained the support of many in the church: Shiloh's missionary president said: "He's a man of God, but he's a human being. It's not that we condone what our pastor has done, but we need to have compassion. We not supposed to assassinate our brothers and sisters. We're not supposed to judge."
However, Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Charles Price was obliged to do just that. He barred McFarland from attending the church and even being on the premises in response to a suit filed by the church's board of deacons and board of trustees. The suit accused the pastor of believing in "sexual ungodliness" and "engaging in such acts in the church building."
It also said he had attempted to alter the church's bylaws in January 2013 to prevent his termination "in the event the church members discovered his debauchery, sinfulness, hedonism, sexual misconduct, dishonesty, thievery and rejection of the Ten Commandments".
He was also accused of changing the locks at the church and changing the names on church bank accounts.
Price said that the plaintiffs had "met their burden of showing an entitlement to a preliminary injunction".
He ordered McFarland to return all church keys to Shiloh's chairman of trustees, Lee Sanford, to return a Mercedes Benz that belongs to the church and change the names on the church bank accounts back to their original state: "The Defendant Juan D McFarland shall immediately inform the manager of the Adams Avenue branch of Regions Bank that all bank accounts of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church shall be placed back in the names of the same individuals as they existed on October 1, 2014."
"It was extremely reluctantly that we took the action that we did, but we have to look [out] for the spiritual welfare of the members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist in moving forward," Sanford told the Montgomery Advertiser after the ruling. He said that the church has always acted in a spirit of forgiveness towards its former pastor.
The final hearing will be on December 1.