Episcopal priest resigns over gay supporting article
October 28, 2003
ROME, Georgia — An Episcopal priest who wrote an article sympathetic to the
church's confirmation of an openly gay priest as a bishop resigned
from a private religious school after administrators asked him to
apologize to dozens of people upset with his views.
John Merchant, 57, became chaplain at Darlington School, a
nondenominational preparatory school, during the summer. He wrote a
column for the student newspaper about the Episcopalian church's
confirmation of V. Gene Robinson as Episcopal bishop in New
Hampshire. The U.S. Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide
Anglican Communion Merchant wrote in the September 3 column in The Darlington that God
is more concerned with spirituality than sexual orientation.
"I didn't have to ponder where I stood," Merchant told The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution for a story in Monday's editions. "But
I took time to keep it brief and try to explain my beliefs. I was
trying to convey it in a positive way."
After the column appeared, school president David Hicks and
headmaster David Rhodes told Merchant that some school donors were
considering withdrawing their support at the academy. They asked
him to initiate between 50 and 75 one-one-one meetings over a month
to apologize to individuals upset with the article.
Merchant refused, calling the request "morally and academically
intolerable," and resigned. He provided the Sept. 30 letter in
which Hicks and Rhodes made the demand to the Rome News-Tribune.
Neither Rhodes nor Hicks responded to repeated requests by a
Journal-Constitution reporter for interviews. Calls were referred
to Atlanta media consultant Chuck Nekvasil.
"We believe in all sincerity that it's time for the healing to
begin and time to move on," Nekvasil said. þSapa-AP
Anglican-Episcopal gay dispute may affect other churches
US priest accusers reject sex abuse settlement offer
Polish ruling party wants to legalise gay unions in Catholic country
Frail pope meets Anglican Archbishop over gays
Catholic liberals criticise Australian cardinal's appointmentt
Oz Anglicans want gay-friendly US liberals expelled