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Episcopal priest resigns over column

Oct. 27, 2003 at 2:55 PM

ROME, Ga., Oct. 27 (UPI) -- An Episcopal priest and a chaplain of the nondenominational Darlington School, in Rome, Ga., has resigned over a column on homosexuality.

John Merchant, 57, was asked to write a column for the campus newspaper after the Episcopal Church's confirmation of openly gay V. Gene Robinson as bishop in New Hampshire.

Merchant supported the confirmation and said the Bible shouldn't always be interpreted literally and that God is more concerned with spirituality than sexual orientation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

He told the Journal-Constitution school President David Hicks and Headmaster David Rhodes told him many parents had complained and some wanted to remove their children from the school, which charges up to $27,000 a year for tuition and board.

"Specifically, we want you to initiate between 50 and 75 one-on-one meetings over the next 30 days," Rhodes and Hicks said in a letter to Merchant.

"These meetings will be with those who have expressed dissent with your views, concern over your chaplaincy, or the intention to withdraw their children or support from the school."

Merchant said he felt the apologies were both morally and academically intolerable.

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