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• Under what circumstances may a minister be sued for allegedly defamatory statements made in the course of a doctrinal explanation in a denominational publication? That was the question before a California state appeals court in a recent case. A minister of the Worldwide Church of God wrote an article in a church publication that addressed the Church's newly developed and misunderstood doctrine on divorce and remarriage. The article contained statements that allegedly defamed the former spouse of a prominent Church official. The court concluded that "our accommodation of the competing interests of our society—one protecting reputation, the other, the free exercise of religion—requires that we hold that in order for a plaintiff to recover damages for defamatory remarks made during the course of a doctrinal explanation by a duly authorized minister, he or she must show, by ...

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  • March 1, 1988

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