An Alabama pastor who has reportedly admitted to having sex with married church members inside of his house of worship without telling them that he has AIDS is forging on with a legal battle to keep his position, appearing before a judge Monday and arguing for his right to regain control.
The Rev. Juan McFarland, 47, has been banned from Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church since mid-October under a court order, but the embattled preacher is fighting to return to the pulpit, with a judge set to rule on the matter in the coming days, according to the Associated Press.
When it came to addressing alleged indiscretions, McFarland invoked the Fifth Amendment in court, declining to discuss the details of his purported indiscretions.
While the congregation voted 80-2 to fire McFarland in October after he reportedly admitted in sermons to doing illegal drugs, having AIDS and having sex inside of the church without informing women of his illness, the pastor claims that he is protected under recently adopted church bylaws.
According to McFarland, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church changed the rules in January 2013 to guarantee his job for life or until he resigned, leading the pastor's lawyer to argue that the church's vote to terminate his pastoral duties was wrong-headed.
The debate centers on Section 6.1 of the bylaws, which, indeed, claims that death or resignation are the only provisions for removal, AL.com reported.
A lawyer representing the deacons and trustees did not deny that the amended bylaws were passed, but claimed that proper notice was not given and that there were not enough members present to pass the measure back in 2013.
That said, some claim that the bylaws were never in dispute until McFarland's behavior recently came to light, the Associated Press reported.
While the pastor has been banned from the church by court order, he is asking Circuit Judge Charles Price to give him back pay in addition to reinstating his position.
As TheBlaze previously reported, McFarland purportedly confessed to parishioners in a series of sermons beginning September 14 that he has AIDS and has had sex in the church building; he reportedly said that he contracted HIV in 2003 and was diagnosed with AIDS in 2008.
While the congregation at first supported him, members say it became clear as new details emerged over the course of three sermons that the situation was more dire than they originally suspected.
The preacher, who has served at the church since 1990, also allegedly admitted that he had misused church money and abused illegal drugs while pastor.
“He concealed from the church that he had knowingly engaged in adultery in the church building with female members of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church while knowingly having AIDS,” Nathan Williams Jr., who has attended the church for more than 70 years, told WSFA-TV.
It didn't take long for the debate to turn ugly, with a battle unfolding for control of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.
Read more about the case here.