An appellate judge has reopened a lawsuit against McLean Bible Church in Tysons Corner, Virginia, a church led by pastor and author David Platt.
McLean Bible Church has issued a statement, saying they will work with the courts but believe the lawsuits and claims are “completely without merit.”
The original lawsuit was filed in June 2021 and alleged that Platt and other church leaders violated the church’s constitution when appointing new elders, ChurchLeaders.com reports.
Members had been concerned about a rumor that Platt intended to sell the church property so a Muslim mosque could be built in its place. In response, church members voted down three prospective elders for the first time in the church’s long history.
When church leadership proposed a second set of elders, members of the lawsuit said that Platt and other leaders “manipulated” votes to restrict votes based on “active members.”
In June 2022, the lawsuit was dismissed, and the church held another elder election with amended processes.
However, Appellate Judge Frank K. Friedman said in an opinion that there were still “factual disputes” in the case.
“We reverse the circuit court’s ruling that the entire case is moot. MBC bore the burden of establishing that appellants’ claims were moot. On this record, MBC’s evidence was insufficient to establish that the alleged ‘ongoing’ violations of MBC’s constitution failed to present a justiciable controversy.”
“We remand the case to permit the circuit court to address ongoing claims relating to the disenfranchisement of members, transparency and notice, and the secret ballot dispute,” Friedman ruled.
A lawyer representing the plaintiffs told reporters that he approved of the recent decision.
“God through the Holy Spirit ought to be able to lead his people to vote their consciences and choose the direction of the church that way,” Rick Boyer said.
“You don’t really need to purge people from the voting lists if you don’t think they’ll vote the right way, that in the context of the church, there is no need for this. And unfortunately, that’s what happened. And that’s where the breach of contract comes in,” Boyer added.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.