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Clergy - Part 2

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• A federal appeals court ruled that civil courts lack authority to resolve disputes between dismissed clergy and their former church or denomination. A minister who had served for 40 years within the Christian and Missionary Alliance (CMA) was dismissed. He sued the CMA, claiming that his dismissal violated established procedures set forth in the CMA bylaws. He alleged that his dismissal violated various "contract and property rights," injured his reputation, and ruined his emotional health. He demanded $1 million in damages (his wife sought an additional $200,000). A federal district court granted the CMA's motion to dismiss, and the ex-minister appealed. A federal appeals court upheld the lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit. The court rejected the ex-minister's claims that (1) his "due process rights" had been violated by the CMA's alleged failure to abide by its own bylaws, and ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • March 1, 1990