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Pastor, Church & Law

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

Defenses for Defamation

Volume 1 . Chapter 4 . § 4-02.3
Key point 4-02.03. A number of defenses are available to one accused of defamation. These include truth, statements made in the course of judicial proceedings, consent, and self-defense. In addition, statements made to church members about a matter of common interest to members are protected by a "qualified privilege," meaning that they cannot be defamatory unless they are made with malice. In this context, malice means that the person making the statements knew that they were false or made them with a reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity. This privilege will not apply if the statements are made to nonmembers.

There are a number of defenses to defamation. The more common examples are summarized below.

1. Truth

The maxim that truth is ...

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