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Christian Science church bans spiritual teacher after she married her lesbian partner

Associated Press, USA
June 24, 2004 • Saturday June 26, 2004

FORT MYERS, Fla. A woman who married her lesbian partner in Massachusetts was banned 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 News-Press of Fort Myers.

The Boston-based church declined to comment on the situation Thursday after initially saying it was planning to issue a statement. A local governing board member said the Christian Science Church of Cape Coral will abide by the Mother Church’s decision.

Christian Science

Theologically, the Church of Christ, Scientist (Christian Science), is a cult of Christianity

Clementson and Suzanne Nightingale, 49, were married May 20 on a Massachusetts beach; photos taken by The Associated Press were 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 that 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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