Police were called to an Alabama church soon after its longtime pastor told parishioners he has AIDS and had had sex with members of the congregation at church. He also admitted to doing drugs and misusing church funds, according to AL.com.
Juan McFarland, pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery since 1990, was removed from office Oct. 5 after adding to revelations he began during earlier sermons.
Police were called to the church Sunday because “members were feuding with each other,” said Montgomery Police Sgt. Denise Barnes in the AL.com article.
McFarland confirmed the allegations when interviewed by a local TV station.
Deacons did not immediately remove McFarland from his post after he told the congregation in a September sermon he was sleeping with church members without telling them he had AIDS, reports WSFA.
One deacon, Nathan Williams Jr., 80, who has attended the church since he was 9, said after that sermon the congregation was very accepting.
“As Christian people, we wanted him to get well,” said Williams. “I thought of him as one of my sons.”
The decision to get rid of the pastor came Oct. 5 after he admitted further details, including using cocaine and using church funds for travel.
Williams said deacons are now focused on moving the church forward, but others say they want justice.
“I believe that he should be put on trial,” said an unnamed church member in the WSFA article. “Go to court and let the judge decide if he should go to jail or not. We tend to sweep things under the rug, especially if they’re the leader. It’s like oh, no, please let’s not get this out but I think after this that they will have more discussions on HIV and AIDS.”
McFarland told church members he contracted HIV in 2003 and discovered in 2008 he had AIDS, says WSFA.
“Transmitting a Sexually Transmitted Disease” is a Class C Misdemeanor, according to Montgomery police. At least one woman who had sex with McFarland is being tested for HIV.
No criminal charges have been filed against McFarland, who, according to an AL.com article, has elected to not seek treatment for AIDS.
McFarland also serves as leader of the 34-church Alabama Middle District Missionary Baptist Association.
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