Fullerton Pastor Opposed to Gay Marriage Arrested on Chester Charges

John McFarland at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church. Photo by John Gilhooley

Fullerton pastor John Rogers McFarland entered not guilty pleas on Monday during an arraignment on 11 counts of child molestation. If convicted of all charges against him, the 67-year-old faces a maximum sentence of 179 years to life. Police arrested McFarland on Thursday; Orange County District Attorney prosecutors allege that the molestation of seven children between the age of five and 15 happened between 2003 and 2017.

The Weekly interviewed pastor McFarland at Orangethorpe United Methodist Church in Fullerton for a 2017 cover story about the LGBT rift within the mainline Protestant denomination.

Standing 6’7”, McFarland made for an imposing figure. Well-versed in scripture, the pastor sided with fellow conservatives in backing the UMC’s Book of Discipline statement holding that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.”

Adopted in 1972, those words established official boundaries against marrying same-sex couples and ordaining LGBT clergy, ones reaffirmed with added penalties during an emotional, controversial General Conference vote in St. Louis, Missouri this February. With liberal pastors having both openly defied and secretly subverted the Book of Discipline’s LGBT policies, especially in the church’s west coast California-Pacific conference, McFarland favored an official split over the row.

Orangethorpe UMC in Fullerton. Photo by John Gilhooley

He thumbed through his worn Bible for the Weekly until arriving to Romans 1.

“Though they knew God, they did not honor him or give thanks to him,” the pastor read aloud with conviction. “Women exchanged the natural functions for that which is unnatural, and in the same way, man abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another. Men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.”

Now, McFarland stands accused of seven felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor under the age of 14. The other four felony counts are for the same crime with a minor between the ages of 14 and 15. Authorities first arrested the pastor in Escondido last December when a girl came forward with child molestation allegations against him. During the course of the investigation, new evidence became available, leading to his arrest again this month.

“The United Methodist Church unequivocally opposes abuse or misconduct of any kind, especially against children,” said Bishop Grant Hagiya in December when McFarland first got arrested. “For that reason, we are engaged in this matter as a top priority and we are fully cooperating with law enforcement.” Consistent with the Book of Discipline, Hagiya immediately suspended McFarland from all clergy duties and placed Reverend Mark Nakagawa in charge of overseeing Orangethorpe UMC.

In addition to preaching at Orangethorpe UMC in Fullerton, McFarland also served as pastor of Surf City Church in Huntington Beach between 2006 and 2011. With decades of preaching behind him, his longest tenure came at Fountain Valley United Methodist Church where he was senior pastor from 1988 until coming over to Fullerton in 2016. He also served as volunteer chaplain for Fountain Valley’s police and fire departments.

McFarland is due back in court on June 20. He remains in Orange County Jail on $2 million bail.

19 Replies to “Fullerton Pastor Opposed to Gay Marriage Arrested on Chester Charges”

  1. What is it with these phony Christians? Two consenting gay adults want to get married and that’s an “abomination”…but molesting kids is ok? Seriously? Ugh

    1. I wish that people wouldn’t use such harsh language or jump to conclusions. We should trust in the Holy Spirit and the court to find the truth, not a website article. I knew him and I can tell you he isn’t a phony Christian.

  2. @Jessica: Obviously two wrongs are even worse than just one wrong. Take a logic 101 class, it will help you.

    1. A crime which harms a child is not comparable to a marriage between consenting adults. The fact that you disagree with same-sex marriage does not make it wrong, and no matter how many people assert that the Bible is absolute truth, that does not make it so. Retake your Logic 101 class. It will help you.

  3. Why is it always the vocal anti gay Christians and politicians are always the most perverted sick fucks?

    Hey Fish good to see you again.

    1. Paul Lucas…spot on!
      And good to see you again, too!
      Wish I could send you an email…

    1. I agree. I question the usage of obscure and unexplained slang. But FYI, online I could find that “Chester” is “an older jail inmate’s expression” for a child molester. I’m guessing that most of the readers of OC Weekly are not older jail inmates…


    As in Chester Molester?


    1. Chester Cheetah, Obvi! (Oops, now I’m going to have to explain that slang abbreviation, too!)

  5. Chester the molester was a monthly comic entry in Hustler magazine in the 1980s. It means a sexual pervert or deviant.

  6. I have known john sent I was seven years old I am now 49 he would never abuse a child I stand with john .

    1. Guess you should be glad he never diddled you, like he did to those other kids. Yeah stand with the child molester, great plan… you must be a christian with this 200IQ level thinking.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *