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A homophobic Anglican minister has resigned after admitting to a pattern of inappropriate behavior, including alcohol abuse, harassment and “undesired physical displays of affection.” In a letter to church members, Tennessee Bishop Neil G. Lebhar said Father Eric Dudley “accepted responsibility for his admitted actions.”
“He recognized his own and his family’s needs for longterm therapy and healing, and he understood that he was currently in no position to function as a priest.”
While Bishop Lebhar didn’t elaborate on the allegations, he did say they included “patterns of undesired physical displays of affection which were deeply damaging to others and contrary to diocesan harassment policy.” He also asked parishioners to pray for the Anglican minister, his wife and their children and to respect their privacy “as they continue on the hard journey toward restoration which Christ desires for all of us.”
Dudley has been outspoken in his opposition to LGBTQ rights: He left St. John’s Episcopal Church after a decade in 2005 after the Episcopal Church’s ordination of a gay bishop. Nearly half of the 1,500 congregants joined him when he formed a new church, St. Peter’s Anglican Church, which is affiliated with the Anglican Church of Uganda.
In a sermon following the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Yale-educated Dudley called the decision legalizing same-sex marriage “shocking, sad [and] infuriating” and said the justices “flew in the face of God.”
The Anglican minister blamed the LGBTQ community’s victory on a “well-oiled political scheme involving the media and Hollywood… ” that’s has led to acceptance of bisexuality, multiple partners, and people who identify with “any gender.”
In an editorial in the Tallahassee Democrat a few weeks later, Dudley called marriage equality “a tragic event in the life of America — yet another unraveling of the Christian fabric of our country.”
“It is not that we dislike homosexual people; on the contrary, we have friends and family members who are gay and we love them, and treat them with the warmth and kindness with which we treat anyone we love,” he added. “But we cannot support them in their desire to marry. We do not believe that we can be faithful to God’s word and at the same time support an ethic that articulates not only marriage within the same gender, but an affirmation of bi-sexual expression, and the blurring of clear lines in gender identity.”
St. Peter’s senior warden, Budd Kneip, will become the leader of the congregation in the absence of a rector.