Several months ago, several conservative members of the 13,000-member multisite McLean Bible Church, where Pastor David Platt holds sway, filed a request with a Fairfax County in order to get an injunction that would force the pastor and the church to conduct their Elder Election via long-standing secret ballot, opposed to the open ballot they were trying to implement.
This unusual move was prompted by the fact that for the entire history of McLean Bible Church, elections like this were conducted by secret ballot. The plaintiffs believe the church is going ‘woke’ and have been fighting back by not confirming leadership appointments being foisted upon them by the church. In order to stop this, MBC leadership is allegedly purging members and staff who don’t vote the way they want to, removing their vote so they are unable to impact results, as well as insisting on changing the church bylaws to have open ballots.
The move to have an open ballot has made dissident members and staff all the more concerned it is an intimidation tactic that will lead to further negative consequences and repercussions. You can also read more about that below:
Platt and his leadership team changed the rules making it no longer secret how one votes.” and David Platt, McLean Bible Church facing legal challenge over ‘arbitrary’ actions.
Platt and McLean are framing the open ballots as a necessary measure in order to stave off a hostile takeover of the church from disillusioned members and former members spreading misinformation and falsehoods in an effort to hurt the church, and likewise filed their own motion to have the case dismissed, arguing this is a church dispute and outside the realm of the government’s purview.
Now, in a new press release from Fairchild & Yoder, the lawyers for the plaintiffs suing the church, we read that the plaintiffs have secured an initial victory in what has so far proved to be an increasingly ugly scandal.
Judge Rules in Favor of Plaintiffs in Case Against McLean Bible Church Alleging Denial of Member Voting Rights FAIRFAX, Virginia.
Today, the Fairfax Circuit Court gave an opening-round victory to Plaintiffs suing McLean Bible Church for alleged illegal denial of voting rights to church members. Steve Gaskins and four other plaintiffs, all current or former members of McLean Bible Church (MBC) filed suit in July alleging that Pastor David Platt and the Board of Elders of McLean Bible Church were illegally removing members from the church membership rolls in an effort to predetermine the outcome of Elder elections at MBC.
Defendants include the church, Platt, and the other six members of the Board of Elders, the governing body of MBC. Plaintiffs noted that the MBC Constitution grants voting privileges at church business meetings to all active members over 16 years old.
Plaintiffs also allege that, after losing a June vote on their chosen candidates for Elder, Defendants ended a decades-long practice of secret ballots for Elder elections, forcing members to place their names on their ballots in order to vote, in an effort to intimidate members who worked on church staff into voting for candidates leadership supported. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the First Amendment bars courts from considering church disputes.
Judge Thomas P. Mann today denied the motion to dismiss. Judge Mann ruled that Plaintiffs have pleaded facts sufficient to state a case that Defendants denied voting rights to members in violation of the MBC Constitution.
The Court held that accordingly Plaintiffs had pleaded a valid case for breach of contract, and that disputes for violations of church constitutions can be adjudicated under “neutral principles of law” without reference to religious or doctrinal issues protected by the First Amendment. The matter now proceeds to Defendants’ demurrer hearing on December 17 in Fairfax Circuit Court.
Plaintiffs have also submitted discovery requests to Defendants pursuant to the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. Rick Boyer, lead attorney for the Plaintiffs, reacted to the court’s ruling. “We are pleased that the Court is allowing this case to move forward. Defendants have repeatedly violated MBC’s constitution, and trampled on the rights of their membership to have an honest vote to choose their leaders. We are pleased that the Court saw through the transparent efforts of Defendants to use Christianized language to cloak their most unchristian efforts to prevent a free and fair vote under the MBC Constitution.”
Plaintiff Steve Gaskins said, “We as members of McLean Bible Church are grateful for the Court’s ruling today. The fight to restore free and fair elections for all members of MBC will move forward. Today is a victory for truth and transparency.” Plaintiff Roland Smith said, “We thank God for today’s victory. Today’s ruling is a critical first step in restoring the rule of law and ensuring that critical voting rights protected by our church constitution will be preserved for all McLean Bible Church members.”