By Jameson Parker | 9 October 2014
In what has to be one of the worst sermons of all time, an Alabama pastor told his stunned congregation that he had been sleeping with several members of the church while knowingly having AIDS. Also: stole a bunch of money. Praise be.
Pastor Juan Demetrius McFarland told his Montgomery-based Baptist church congregation the nature of his crimes in a bizarre, month-long confessional-style series of sermons. Each admission somehow worse than the last.
It all started when he told a group of church members that he had AIDS — something he had struggled with, largely in secret, since 2008. The church was reportedly overwhelmingly supportive and rallied around their pastor. Unfortunately, he took that generosity of spirit as license to empty out the skeletons in his closet, of which there were numerous.
According to WBTV:
Once the pastor, with 23 years of leadership, started revealing more and more on the following Sundays, members and leaders say they realized he had crossed the line.
In a resolution read aloud at the church, leaders shared, and Pastor McFarland confirmed to WSFA 12 News, that he admitted to drug use and mishandling of church funds. And there was what members say was the ultimate shocker, described by church deacon Nathan Williams Jr.
“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,” Williams said.
One of the church members told WBTV that she knew at least one of the young women that McFarland had slept with, who is now — understandably — terrified that she has been infected with HIV.
I know a young lady who is a member of the church who says she has slept with him and that she didn’t want this to go public, and she running out now trying to find out if there is anything wrong with her. And my heart goes out to her because she’s been a wonderful church member, and then for something like this to happen. The fact that he didn’t tell them at all. That’s a crime in itself.
So far none of the women have contacted police to report that they are infected, although HIV testing can take some time to come back with conclusive results.
Montgomery police are reportedly looking into the matter. If McFarland is found guilty of having sexual intercourse while knowingly having AIDS, he could be charged with a crime, although strangely given the circumstances, not a very severe one. According to WBTV, a charge of “transmitting a sexually transmitted disease” is a misdemeanor, despite the fact that giving someone HIV could very well be a death sentence if not treated aggressively.
One of the problems with finding McFarland criminally liable for what he did is that Alabama is one of the only states in the nation that doesn’t have HIV-specific laws.
After his casual confession to the very serious crimes, McFarland was promptly fired from his church.
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