An AIDS-infected Alabama pastor has confessed to having sex with multiple female members of his congregation in the church building without telling them about his sickness.
Juan Demetrius McFarland, now former pastor of Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Montgomery confessed to the adultery from the pulpit over the course of several Sundays, according to WSFA.
He first told worshippers on Sept. 14 that he had contracted HIV in 2003 and been diagnosed with AIDS in 2008.
At first, the congregation was sympathetic.
“The church was very accepting of Rev. McFarland and was willing to help him in any way possible,” one church member who asked to be unnamed told WSFA.
Further confessions on subsequent Sundays, however, caused members and other church leaders to realize that McFarland had “crossed the line.”
Leaders read a resolution at the church detailing McFarland’s confessions of drug use, mishandling of church funds … and another revelation that still has the church reeling.
“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,” said church deacon Nathan Williams Jr.
WSFA confirmed the allegations with McFarland, who was removed as pastor on Sunday.
Williams said that in his 70 years as a member of the church, this is the biggest scandal it has ever experienced. He said leaders have hired a lawyer but are focused on moving forward.
“Our moves are going to come directly from counsel. We want peace and we want to do the right thing, legally,” Williams said. “We are not looking to hurt him. We are looking to get the church back. That’s our theme: Get the church back. We want to get the church back. That’s it.”
Another unnamed church member sympathized with McFarland’s female victims.
“Who does this to people, and you’re the leader? Who does this?” the member asked. “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, you know, she’s running out now trying to find out, you know, if there is anything wrong with her. And my heart goes out to her because she’s been a wonderful, wonderful member of the church.”
Montgomery police told WSFA that transmitting a sexually transmitted disease is a Class C Misdemeanor. No charges have yet been filed against McFarland, but some church members said that should change.
“I believe that he should be put on trial,” another unnamed church member told WSFA. “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 had been in church leadership roles for 23 years.
Watch WSFA’s full report here:
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