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Judge Greer parts ways with his church on pastor's advice

By Times Staff
Published March 22, 2005

CLEARWATER - Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge George Greer left his church last week after the pastor wrote him a letter suggesting "it might be easier for all of us" if he leave.

Greer, whose orders on the Terri Schiavo case have brought him criticism, is a Southern Baptist who attended Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater.

Though he had other unrelated problems with the church, Greer's attendance faltered after a Baptist publication the church supported criticized his decisions in the Schiavo case. He stopped his donations to the church, but remained a member. He briefly discussed his relationship with the church in a March 6 St. Petersburg Times article.

Four days later, Calvary Pastor William Rice wrote Greer a letter: "I am not asking you to do this, but since you have taken the initiative of withdrawal, and since your connection with Calvary continues to be a point of concern, it would seem the logical and, I would say, biblical course."

Rice's letter became public when he sent a copy to the Clearwater courthouse. Rice also said the church supports keeping Schiavo alive, though he said he was "truly saddened and embarrassed by the level of harassment and vitriolic nature of so many comments that purportedly come from people of faith."

Rice, who has been pastor at the church for five months, added: "But you must know that in all likelihood it is this case which will define your career and this case that you will remember in the waning days of life. I hope you can find a way to side with the angels and become an answer to the prayers of thousands."

Greer responded with a letter severing his relationship with the church.

Some protesters go on hunger strike

PINELLAS PARK - For some who want Terri Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted, protesting is not enough. They have gone on hunger strikes.

"She has a right to live like anyone else," said Becki Snow, who has pledged not to eat until Schiavo's tube is put back in.

Several others in the crowd outside Schiavo's hospice wore black arm bands to signify their solidarity with the woman and their commitment to starve.

Though doctors have testified in court proceedings that Schiavo will not feel pain after the tube's removal, the hunger strikers disagree.

Guabe Garcia Jones, 26, stopped eating the day the tube was removed. Jones drove to Pinellas Park from Washington, D.C., with a friend who also was on a hunger strike.

"If that's what it takes to show people what's going on, then that's what we'll do until things are made right," Jones said.

Priest removed from Capitol

Father Peter West knew the Florida Legislature didn't have the Terri Schiavo case on its calendar for discussion Monday. But that didn't stop the Catholic priest from Staten Island, N.Y., from bringing up the matter at several Senate committee meetings.

Now he has been banned from the Capitol.

First, West was warned during the Senate Committee on Ethics and Elections that Senate rules allow testimony only on bills before the committee.

West later brought up Schiavo before the Senate Committee on Regulated Industries.

That's when he was ejected from the Capitol and issued a trespass warning.

"It's deplorable that the Florida Senate would go on with business as usual when a young woman is starving to death," West said.

Capitol police said West was the only person removed from the Capitol, which was filled with dozens of protesters urging lawmakers to force the reinsertion of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube.

--Times staff writers Chris Tisch, Candace Rondeaux and Alisa Ulferts contributed to this report.

[Last modified March 22, 2005, 06:26:20]

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