An Orthodox priest was suspended from a parish in Ohio after attending a “Stop the Steal” protest at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 in support of then-President Trump, according to local reports.
Rev. Mark Hodges, who has served as a priest for several churches in the state under the Diocese of the Midwest Orthodox Church in America, was suspended for three months and faces “possible defrocking” for attending the rally, according to the Lima News and the Dayton Daily News.
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Five people died following the rally after a mob stormed the Capitol building as Congress worked to confirm the electoral votes for then-President-elect Joe Biden.
Hodges told the Lima News and the Dayton Daily News that he disagrees with the suspension, calling it “unjust.”
Archbishop Paul Gassios from the archdiocese confirmed Hodges’ suspension in an emailed statement to the Lima News but declined to comment further.
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Hodges told the outlets that he did not enter the Capitol building and did not support the violence that escalated during the riot following Trump’s speech. He said that he left once he witnessed rioters “violently antagonize the police.”
Hodges claimed that Gassios told him he was “guilty by association.”
Days before the rally in the nation’s capital, Hodges called on others through a Facebook post to join the protest in Washington and be “on the front lines in the Second American Revolution, where you fought to save the Republic,” according to the report.
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Hodges has been affiliated with the St. Paul the Apostle parish in Sugarcreek Township. and St. Stephen Orthodox Church in Lima. He currently serves as a “supply priest” who fills for priests on vacation or for other vacancies.