Baptists Want Their Pastor Out of There

     HOUSTON (CN) - Seventy "embarrassed and humiliated" Baptists want their pastor removed, saying he stole money from the church, made lewd remarks to women, threatened parishioners with a gun, and was involved in "violent criminal activity," including waving a handgun at motorists while cruising with two open bottles of alcohol and two loaded guns in his pickup truck.
     The Rev. Theodore Baines Sr., who stands 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs more than 300 pounds, presides over 90-year-old Mt. Olive Baptist Church "through threats and intimidation, without ever being approved through vote to be installed as pastor of the Church," the disgruntled members say in their complaint in Harris County Court.
     They say the reverend has "desecrated the image and reputation of the church ... and has brought shame and ridicule upon the church."
     They claim Baines has defamed former, deceased pastors of the church; brandished a gun at a male congregant who dared to criticize him, and forced the man off church grounds; made lewd comments to female parishioners, old and young; "had his son, Reverend Theodore Baines Jr., electronically transfer funds from a bank account of the church to his personal bank account without the approval of the membership body of the church, with such transfers presently under investigation by the Harris County District Attorney's Office for possible criminal charges; [and] continually disrespected the church by uncontrollable consumption of alcohol while on duty as pastor at the church," among other things.
     The plaintiffs say Baines was arrested on March 11, 2010 and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and unlawfully carrying a gun "after police in Fort Bend County, Texas received a call that a man (later identified as defendant Reverend Baines) was waving a handgun at motorists while driving on Highway 59 at FM 2218. Upon being arrested, police said that they found two open bottles of alcohol and two loaded firearms in the pickup truck of defendant Reverend Baines."
     They say the incident was reported "in all of the local newspapers and on television," and embarrassed and humiliated the church.
     The 70 plaintiffs, who say they represent 80 percent of the church's membership, seek a temporary restraining order to enjoin Baines from entering church-owned property. They also seek damages for trespassing, theft, conversion, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. They are represented by U. Lawrence Boze'.