Nearly a month after his defamation case against the North American Mission Board was dismissed, Will McRaney announced Monday (Sept. 11) that he is appealing the ruling with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. McRaney had a 30-day window to appeal the ruling.
The McRaney v. North American Mission Board lawsuit, initially filed in 2017, was dismissed Aug. 15 by the U.S. District Court Northern District of Mississippi Aberdeen Division.
“We’re going to move forward in this case,” said McRaney in a video update released Sept. 11. “There is too much at stake.”
The summary judgment released in August by the court stated, “Adjudication of the Plaintiff’s claims in this lawsuit will clearly require the Court to inquire into religious matters and decision-making to a degree that is simply impermissible under the Constitution and the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine.”
The court stated it “agrees with NAMB that Mississippi state courts also clearly lack subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate this dispute.”
McRaney, NAMB responses
In response to the case being dismissed, McRaney shared a statement with The Baptist Paper on Aug. 16.
“It is my view that the judge’s ruling is built around the erroneous concept of ‘THE’ Baptist Church as a denomination like the Catholic or Methodist Church, however, the First Amendment clearly declares that the government cannot create or establish a religion,” he said.
“Unless this court’s ruling is challenged, the SBC, Baptist ministers, along with Baptist autonomy, cooperation, financial health and missionaries will be under threat of loss and a form of hierarchy created.”
Following the decision to dismiss the case on Aug. 15, NAMB responded with the following statement: “Since the outset NAMB has consistently held that the accusations against our ministry are unfounded. We have also argued that, as Christian ministries, NAMB and others involved in this case should be protected by the First Amendment and should not be forced to endure scrutiny and intrusive examination from the courts.”