An Alabama minister who shocked his congregation by confessing he had sex with church members while afflicted with AIDS is now being sued. The congregation of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery voted 80-1 on Oct. 5 to dismiss Rev. Juan Demetrius McFarland as pastor, but he refused to give up the pulpit and presided over services Sunday. Deacons who tried to oust him filed a lawsuit on Tuesday asking the court to order McFarland to vacate the church, citing his "debauchery, sinfulness, hedonism, sexual misconduct, thievery and rejection of the Ten Commandments."
The deacons' lawyer, Kenneth Shinbaum, said they feel threatened by a McFarland supporter, Marc Anthony Peacock, who allegedly vowed to enforce "castle law" if they showed up again. "Most of the membership is scared to go to church right now," Shinbaum said. "They don't want someone to shoot them." Peacock told NBC News the allegation was "incorrect" and declined to comment further.
In a series of Sunday sermons, McFarland reportedly admitted to a series of misdeeds, including using drugs, misappropriating church funds and adulterous affairs on church property while he had full-blown AIDS. He confirmed the disclosures to NBC affiliate WSFA but has not spoken publicly about the scandal. McFarland did not respond to numerous requests for comment and it's not clear if he has an attorney.
The deacons claim McFarland changed the locks on the church and switched the bank accounts to his name. Nevertheless, there were about 50 people in the pews when he delivered a sermon on healing on Sunday. Shinbaum said that it appears many of those in attendance were outsiders, but McFarland "does have a few supporters."
— Tracy Connor