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Inspection of Church Records

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Do members of an incorporated church have the legal authority to inspect the church's financial records over the objection of church "elders"?

That was the difficult issue before the Arkansas Supreme Court in a recent case. As part of what the court described as a dispute of "a longstanding, ongoing, and heated nature, certain members of a local Church of Christ congregation sought to obtain various financial records of the church as part of a concerted effort to oust the current church leadership.

When church elders rejected the members' request, the members proceeded to incorporate the church under a state nonprofit corporation law making the "books and records" of a corporation subject to inspection "by any member for any proper purpose at any reasonable time." Church elders continued to reject the members' request for inspection, whereupon ...

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  • November 1, 1988

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