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Pastor, Church & Law

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

Court Decisions Rejecting Fiduciary Duty Claims

Volume 4 . Chapter 10 . § 10-13.2
Key point 10-13.2. Several courts have refused to hold churches and denominational agencies liable on the basis of a breach of a fiduciary duty for the sexual misconduct of a minister. In some cases, this result is based on First Amendment considerations.

This section reviews court decisions in which a church or other religious organization was found not liable on the basis of breaching a fiduciary duty. Many courts have concluded that the First Amendment's "nonestablishment of religion" and "free exercise of religion" clauses prevent the civil courts from resolving such claims involving clergy misconduct.

Case Studies

• A federal appeals court, applying Illinois law, ruled that a church and denominational agency were not legally responsible ...

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