The (Will) McRaney v. North American Mission Board lawsuit, initially filed in 2017, was dismissed today (Aug. 15) by the U.S. District Court Northern District of Mississippi Aberdeen Division.
“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,” states the summary judgment report. Also, the court stated it “agrees with NAMB that Mississippi state courts also clearly lack subject matter jurisdiction to adjudicate this dispute.”
NAMB officials said in a statement released early evening Aug. 15, “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.
“Our goal throughout this process has been to practice restraint in our public comments and to honor Christ in our actions. We continue to pray the best for the plaintiff and his ministry.”
McRaney shared a statement with The Baptist Paper on Aug. 16, making the comments below an update to the original article that posted Aug. 15:
“Sandy and I are prayerfully considering our next steps in light of the judge’s ruling to dismiss our case. 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.
“We have 30 days to decide to appeal the ruling to the 5th Circuit,” McRaney said. “The litigating cost and risks to Baptists are high, but the cost to Baptists by doing nothing will be higher. We covet your prayers.”