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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

The Clergy-Penitent Privilege—Defining "To a Minister"

Volume 1 . Chapter 3 . § 3-07.3
Key point 3-07.3. In order for the clergy-penitent privilege to apply there must be a communication that is made to a minister.

Clergy-penitent privilege laws generally limit the privilege to confidential communications made to clergymen, priests, or ministers of the gospel. Communications made to nuns, an elder and deacon in the Christian Church, lay religious counselors, "lay ministers," unordained, self-proclaimed ministers, and a "born-again" police officer who was a former deacon in his church, are not privileged because they are not made to a member of the clergy. But communications made to lay religious counselors whose services are necessary because of the number of people requiring counseling, to ordained elders, elders in the Presbyterian ...

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