More than 10,000 people are urging the Lutheran church to expel one of its pastors after he was indicted on criminal charges concerning the 2020 US presidential election in the state of Georgia.
Former police chaplain pastor Stephen Cliffgard Lee was named as one of the 18 co-defendants indicted alongside former president Donald Trump last week. He has been accused of alleged participation in a scheme to pressure an election worker to falsely admit to committing election fraud in 2020.
He is facing charges of conspiring to commit solicitation of false statements and writings, influencing witnesses and violating Georgia's RICO Act, the state's racketeering law.
Organised by Faithful America, the petition is addressed to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS), urging the denomination to expel the pasto. They argue that there's "absolutely no reason for any denomination to let someone credibly accused of illegally undermining our democracy in a position of moral or spiritual leadership".
Faithful America describes itself as "the largest online community of Christians putting faith into action for social justice".
David Shestokas, the lawyer representing the 70-year-old pastor, said a bail bond had been reached with authorities with pastor Lee expected to turn himself in on Friday. He is being asked to pay $75,000 (£59,000).
On Thursday, Donald Trump surrendered in Georgia on similar charges – the arrest saw the first-ever mugshot of a former US present. He has paid a bail bond of $200,000 (£160,000) to be released from the Atlanta jail while he awaits trial.
Premier has contacted LCMS for comment.