Christian Science teacher barred after marrying same-sex partner

BY admin

June 25 2004 12:00 AM ET

A woman in Fort Myers, Fla., who married her lesbian partner in Massachusetts was barred from
teaching in the Church of Christ, Scientist, after she refused to "repent" for her actions. A church letter sent to Kathleen Clementson said she had abused her role as a teacher and could teach spiritual healing again only if she repented and served a three-year probation.

Clementson, 62, instead returned her teaching credentials and left the church. "I don't feel I have anything to repent for more than anyone else," she told The [Fort Myers] News-Press.

The Boston-based church said Thursday it was preparing a statement about the incident, which it planned to release by the end of the day. Clementson's home church in Cape Coral said it would abide the church's decision. Clementson and Suzanne Nightingale, 49, were married May 20 on a
Massachusetts beach. Photos of the event were taken by the Associated Press and sent to news outlets around the world. Clementson said many people who saw the photos recognized her name in connection with the church.

Christian Scientists consider prayer as the primary source of mental and physical healing, and Clementson was a well-known church practitioner and lecturer. For 10 years she taught a two-week class on spiritual healing, which is a first step toward being a church practitioner. The church's letter to Clementson also said that her former students are now considered to have had no primary instruction and they can no longer advertise their practitioner services in the Christian Science Journal or take annual refresher courses. Few people will be seriously affected by the board's decision, Clementson said.

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