Defrocked pastor sues Christian dating site

A Church of Sweden minister has demanded compensation from a Christian dating site after he was stripped of his clerical collar for insulting a number of the site's female users.

The operators of the 7EHimlen (“Seventh Heaven”) site kept copies of the pastor’s online comments and passed them on to his superiors at the cathedral chapter in Växjö in southern Sweden. The ensuing scandal led to a hearing in which the clergyman lost the right to perform religious services.

But the Swedish Data Inspection Board called the site to task for an alleged breach of the country’s Personal Data Act. And the pastor, now pensioned, is suing 7EHimlen for 370,000 kronor ($52,000) for loss of income and a violation of his right to privacy, according to local media reports.

The pastor, who had been drinking at the time, said in April that he deeply regretted his online outburst.

“You look like a bearded lady,” was one of the more offensive comments made to women with whom he was chatting on the Christian dating site.

“You look really drab and dreary. You probably have to pay for sex,” the elderly pastor said to another, according to local newspaper Smålandsposten.

Simon Widén, one of the owners of the contact site, explained that he had reported the pastor because he was upset by his comments.

“Maybe it was legally wrong but morally I feel I have done the right thing,” he told Smålandsposten after the Data Inspection Board had criticised the site’s actions in April.

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