Torches and pitchforks in hand, a gaggle of angry Methodist pastors “convicted” Rev. Frank Schaefer (pictured) of demonstrating “disobedience to the order and discipline of the United Methodist Church” after officiating his son Tim’s marriage to another man back in 2007.
“I did not want to make this a protest about the doctrine of the church,” Schaefer said during his opening remarks on Monday. “I was ready to choose between my son and my career.”
Schaefer, who arrived in court dressed in a rainbow-colored stole, said he was honest with his superiors about his plans to officiate his son’s wedding and received no reprimand at the time. However, last April, about a month before the church’s statute of limitations was due to expire, Jon Boger, a member of Schaefer’s congregation, filed a complaint.
“He kept it silent from the congregation,” Boger said in his testimony Monday. “Nobody knew. It was a lie and a broken covenant!”
Dozens of Schaefer’s supporters waited outside the hearing in Spring City, Pennsylvania, protesting both church doctrine and church trials, which many feel have turned into an overused and ineffective tool for dealing with civil rights issues.
One protestor’s sign read: “Church trials are incompatible with Christian teaching.”
During his testimony, Schaefer also said the church “needs to stop judging people based on their sexual orientation. We have to stop the hate speech. We have to stop treating them as second-class Christians.”
He also defied his peers by refusing to repent.
“I cannot,” he told prosecutor Rev. Christopher Fisher.
And he refused to promise he wouldn’t perform another same-sex union.
The heretic now faces punishment ranging from a formal reprimand to
being burned at the stake losing his minister’s credentials and being defrocked.