Schiavo Case Judge Greer Asked to Leave Church

Judge George Greer, who made most of the findings of fact in the Terri Schiavo case, was asked to leave his Baptist church. He complied.

Judge Greer parts ways with his church on pastor’s advice (St. Petersburg Times)

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer left his church last week after the pastor wrote him a letter suggesting “it might be easier for all of us” if he leave.
Greer, whose orders on the Terri Schiavo case have brought him criticism, is a Southern Baptist who attended Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater.

Though he had other unrelated problems with the church, Greer’s attendance faltered after a Baptist publication the church supported criticized his decisions in the Schiavo case. He stopped his donations to the church, but remained a member. He briefly discussed his relationship with the church in a March 6 St. Petersburg Times article. Four days later, Calvary Pastor William Rice wrote Greer a letter: “I am not asking you to do this, but since you have taken the initiative of withdrawal, and since your connection with Calvary continues to be a point of concern, it would seem the logical and, I would say, biblical course.”

Rice’s letter became public when he sent a copy to the Clearwater courthouse. Rice also said the church supports keeping Schiavo alive, though he said he was “truly saddened and embarrassed by the level of harassment and vitriolic nature of so many comments that purportedly come from people of faith.”

Quite bizarre.

I know little about Judge Greer and his fealty to Baptist principles. Presumably, one could be devoutly Baptist–and even believe fervently that Michael Schiavo’s actions are sinful–and still conclude that the law required that he rule as he did. While it’s often observed only in the breech, a judge’s ruling on a case and his personal belief in what is “right” do not always coincide. Indeed, many on the Christian Right complain bitterly about secularist judges imposing their morality on the country.

Via Jonathan Last

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James Joyner
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  1. Dale L. Rowley says:

    I have been a Southern Baptist minister for over 50 years. One of our historic doctrines states that the church and the state are to be kept separate. What is apparently overlooked by some Southern Baptists in this situation, is the nature of a judge’s task. Judge Greer is required to interpret cases on the basis of the United States Constitution, and in this case, the Florida State Constitution. For him to interpret such cases according to the Southern Baptist 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, would truly be a miscarriage of justice.

  2. Yes to Rev. Rowley’s comment, and also remember the Calvinist roots of the SBC – pertinent because Calvin distinguished between the duties of public office and the obligations on discipleship if a private citizen.

  3. I’ve been a Southern Baptist since I was 5. Our nation was not built on any such mythical principal of “Separation of Church and State” it it was built of Christian principles. What Judge Greer has done is not lawful nor moral, and I am disappointed the church didn’t kick his sorry butt out long ago. It shows a weakness on their part for the solid teachings of the Bible.

  4. Just Me says:

    I am also a Southern Baptist, and am on one level troubled by this, but on another not, there is some reference to other problems in the church and the apparant fact that the judge seemed to be in some ways withdrawing on his own.

    This may be an issue of church discipline, or simply a matter of trying to avoid controvery that is surrounding this.

    I don’t know that I agree with the pastor asking him to leave, but there may have been other oncversations/communications between the two that we aren’t privy to.

    I do think the pastor is right that there are some on the “pro keeping the feeding tube in” side that have been pretty vitriolic and nasty, but there has been vitriole from the other side as well. Nobody is justified in this attitude, this is a case that doesn’t have clear answers.

  5. karin says:

    Bravo Judge Greer for doing your job. And shame on you Mr. Carleton. Jesus wouldn’t want you for a sunbeam with that attitude toward one of his flock.

  6. Kimber says:

    As a Christian, I am very ashamed of the church’s decision to kick anyone out of a church. I hope the Judge will find another place to worship. This is our Holy Week and we need to remember we are all God’s children… Remember that when we past judgement on someone. God Bless you all.

  7. Meezer says:

    I am older than many here but when I was growing up we had a name for people who put their principles before their convenience or even saftey: heroes.
    If the judge is a good enough Baptist (I am not one, so I can’t tell) to truly believe the doctrine then he has a simple solution. Leave the Bench. Others have died for principles, surely getting a different job is not that great a sacrifice.

  8. craig henry says:

    Actually, the judge was an inactive member of the church who stopped attending because they distributed a pro-life newsletter that criticized his Schiavo decisions.

  9. Boyd says:

    As the son of a Southern Baptist minister, I’ve been Southern Baptist all my life. It’s comments like those of Danny Carlton that make me glad in our (mine and the SBC) belief in the priesthood of the individual. It means I don’t feel obligated to rub shoulders with pseudo-Christians like Mr. Carlton.

  10. bindare says:

    As the apostles Peter and John said to the Sanhedrin in the Book of Acts, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you (MAN) rather than God”. As A follower of Christ, any Baptist should put obedience to God ahead of all else. This judge has backed himself into a corner and I fear his stubbornness (pride) has kept him from putting God first.

  11. Boyd says:

    It’s so comforting that God has whispered His will into your ear, bindare. It’s nice to know that someone has a hardline into His mind.

    Be sure to share His next revelation with us.

    Man, talk about pride!

  12. She should have been given rehabilitation. Husband was given money for rehab. Spent it on lawyers to kill her. I feel powerless, and not good. Poor Terry. And her poor parents. This is insane.

  13. bruce says:

    When troops follow bad orders they still get hanged, isn’t that right? And to the person who said shame on the church for kicking him out, I guess he would also say shame on Paul for having someone kicked out of the Corrinthian church, right?

  14. Tim says:

    The judge is just following orders you mean?

    Tell me, when was the last time those of you who support the Judge, last saw “Judgement at Nuremberg?”

    The church welcomes sinners into their midst if they are repentent. You can’t come in as a sinner, contintue to sin, and simply demand others accept it as your choice. There has to be an attempt, a desire, a conviction to stop the behaivor that goes against the dogma of the church.

    It’s the same as homosexuals being the members of a number of churches. If someone continues to commit homosexual acts, introduces their gay lover as their spouse, and generally spits at the dogma of that church they should leave. They can find a church that has a different view, where they are welcome.

    This judge is a part of a process where a woman is being killed by the state. Everything else goes to mitigation and is disputable. If the church sees this as a great sin, then they would be wrong to tell this judge it’s okay if he disagrees.

    It doesn’t mean the first church was wrong to support their dogma by requiring something of a member, that they share the same beliefs.

  15. Kathy says:

    I am so sick over this whole situation. And I am so pleased that the judge was asked to leave his church. We are all sinners and God loves us. But for anyone to play God and think they have the right to decide who lives or dies is wrong. I commend the minister and his courage to stand on his principles of the right to life. God gives life and only God can take it.

  16. Clarke says:

    I am a student at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. This pastor seems to be wrong in his asking for this judge to leave. The way he did this was NOT biblical, nor was it Christian. Jesus asked a crowd once if any one of them were without sin, let him cast the first stone. What kind of faith does this pastor have if he cannot stand heat! I am praying for you, sir, but…

    This church does not represent MY Baptist faith!

  17. Gilda says:

    Praise Calvary Baptist Church for taking a stand. Obviously, Judge Greer has not accepted Christ into his heart. IF he had then he would have love, compassion and respect for life. God is love! God gave us life and God will take our lives when HE sees fit. I pray that Judge Greer will rule to insert the feeding tubes before it is too late for her. I believe if she should die from starvation that Judge Greer would be as guilty of murder, just as much as everyone that thinks this woman’s life has no meaning. We treat the enemies in war, the animals of the wild, and the endangered creatures of the sea with more dignity than we do the life of Terri Schiavo. God help us!!!

  18. Tom says:

    I’m amazed. I have heard and been called a mind numbed robot for being a Christian. There are times when the Letter of the Law must be followed especially in criminal cases but in civil cases there is room for the Spirit of the Law to enter in.

    In a civil case such as this where we hear Lawyers on the news shows talk over and over that Judge Greer has followed the Law. I have to believe he is a Mind Numbed Robot for the State. Terri would have been better off if she were a murder. In fact I believe I heard she once stepped on a cockroach. Maybe she can finally get a new hearing because she murdered a cockroach.

    It’s a sad day in America when in a case such as Terri’s “The Letter of the Law is more important than the Spirit of the Law”. Her Parents case to keep her alive is not a criminal case where strict rules and guidelines have got to be followed. Hers is a civil case where there is and has been from the beginning, doubt regarding her wishes

  19. David says:

    LOL – You people that agree that Judge Greer should have been kicked out – What do any of you bastards truely know about Christ? Cast your judgement. Be condesending. You’re idiots!! Move to the Middle East where you will fit in. The church that Judge Greer attends is nothing more than a political organization that has money as it’s primary concern.

    Gilda – you are an idiot. Take control of your’ life and make a difference. Stop wasting your time judging others.

    God bless and have a great day 🙂 Cheers

  20. CAROLE says:


  21. David says:

    Carole 🙂 You are obviously ignorant of the Bible’s teachings. Please do you own reading and stop relying on your 3rd grade Sunday school class for your information on the Bible. If you do your own reading, you will understand that our “YAWEH, OUR ALMIGHTY, LOVING,SOVEREIGN,MERCIFUL GOD” is portrayed as anything but those things in the Bible. Fellow christians so often wish to omit these parts of the Bible when referring to the “truth of Gods word”. After all, when is killing helpless children a loving act? I assume that the Old Testament is fair game since you used the name “Yeweh”, and you are not simply limiting your scope to the Synoptic books of the New Testament. The point that I meant to make is that those who cast judgement (Including that Pastor) are doing just that – casting judgement – probably more on personal views and less on the actual teachings of the Bible. They are the hyppocrits.
    1) yes – I am a jackass 🙂
    2) Why do you ASSUME that I would fit in in DC?
    3) It’s not govnts job to represent the truth of Gods word – seperation of church & state is one of the things that makes this country great! And besides – I would hate to have the govnt start killing children in the name of God.
    4) Hippocrit? me? please explain.
    5) Gilda, I do appologize for being rude.

    Carole, I doubt you will post back, but if you do – I look forward to your response.

    Cheers 🙂

  22. Helen Bennett says:

    The pastor who aked the judge to leave should have loved the sinner and not the sin. The church should not have asked him to leave but tried to convince him to do right by the Schindler family. This death is not the way we the people should allow to happen in this manner. The death bed should be surrounded by love.

    Hospice and the medical director should not want to be envolved in a death like this. We are not God and this is not a natural death, she would have died and she will die in his timetable but this death has been aided by the very same thing that gave her a heart-attack/stroke in the first place. ELECTROLYTE IMBALANCE.

  23. Cindy says:

    David, You sound like a kool-aid person. You would fit in Washington, a world of political viewsand no thought process.

  24. David says:

    Hi Cindy – It’s easy to make a mindless statement as you have just done. Why not address which point that you disagree with and we can address the issue. My bet is that you will not, but I welcome the discussion.

  25. brobob says:

    In reading the earlier comments by Christians and others… it truly saddens my heart as to the confusion and obvious ignorance so many have regarding God’s word and Christ’s statment in Mat. 12:7 ” But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless “…even the most guilty of crime always have their judge, regardless if rightious or unrightious to see the accused face to face… Terry was not given even this in hope for mercy.