Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Dana Carvey's "Church Lady" Would be Sued Today

The Iowa Supreme Court rules that a woman who was apparently called the "spirit of Satan" by a church minister may sue for defamation. The case has been appealed to the SCOTUS.

The controversy began in March 1999 at the United Methodist Church of Shell Rock. In an attempt to resolve problems within the church, the Rev. Jerrold Swinton, a former district superintendent of the Iowa Conference of the United Methodist Church, visited Shell Rock.

After Swinton's visit, a letter from him was circulated to both members and non-members of the church. Swinton said in the letter he was in despair when Jane Kliebenstein told him the current pastor must leave the community.

In the letter, Swinton said a church conference should be called to "propose that Jane Kliebenstein be stripped of church offices. It is understood that if she continues to cause dissension, she will next be asked to leave the Shell Rock UMC."

The letter also said the congregation had "allowed the spirit of Satan to work in their midst."

Update: Here's the full decision if you're interested in reading it. Although it was handed down in June, it was only recently appealed to the SCOTUS (as mentioned in the linked article above).

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