Anglican Priest Fired Over Porn

Longtime priest, second employee fired at conservative church

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011  |  Updated 1:31 PM EDT
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Anglican Priest Fired Over Porn

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An associate rector at a prominent conservative Anglican church in Fairfax City was fired last month for repeatedly using a church computer to surf for pornography, a church official told the Washington Post.

The Rev. Marshall Brown, 57, who served as a priest at Truro Church for more than a decade and was the associate rector of pastoral care, was fired Dec. 31 after church officials discovered he had been "accessing websites that could be considered as pornographic," Warren Thrasher, Truro executive director, told the Fairfax Times.

Thrasher, who joined the church in 2008, said Brown told church officials in 2005 that he had an Internet addiction problem, and then-Truro rector and current Anglican Bishop Martyn Minns arranged for Brown to seek treatment at that time, according to the Times. But Brown never spelled out the problem, church officials said, and they didn't ask.

Minns, one of the leaders of Anglican conservatism, said in an interview with the Washington Post last week that in 2005, he didn't ask his then-assistant for details about what kind of sites he was using -- sexual or otherwise. The addiction experts who treated Brown told Minns that "there was nothing illegal or involving children," but beyond that, Minns told the Post, "I didn't ask too many questions."

Brown told the Post he deeply regrets the way his tenure at Truro ended and the way his actions have affected his family and church. He declined to go into the specifics of what happened, but said, "The church, Bishop Minns, they've treated me fairly. If I were a denominational leader, I would do exactly the same thing," the Post reported.

It is not clear how church officials learned Brown was using pornography, but Thrasher said the discovery prompted the church to look at all its computers and that another employee was found using sites "with suggestive names, " the Post reported. Truro called the Fairfax City police, who took the employee's computer but it is not clear yet whether any crimes were committed, police said. That employee, who has not been named, also has been fired from the church, Thrasher told the Times.

Truro Church clergy helped to lead a highly publicized split with the Episcopal Church after the 2003 election of the first openly gay bishop. Truro is one of nine Virginia congregations still enmeshed in a complex and costly legal fight with the Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia over church properties, which are worth tens of millions of dollars, the Post reported.

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