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Dismissed Minister Sues Church for Defamation

Courts are prohibited from resolving such lawsuits.

Minnesota
State:
Key point: The civil courts are prohibited by the first amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving lawsuits brought by dismissed clergy challenging their dismissals, especially if the resolution of such a dispute would require consideration of ecclesiastical matters.

• A federal district court in Minnesota dismissed a minister's lawsuit alleging that church officials had defamed him. A denomination decided not to elevate a congregation to mission status, thereby cutting off all subsidies and in effect terminating the minister who served the congregation. The minister sued his denomination for defamation, alleging that denominational officials published both oral and written defamatory statements about him that damaged his reputation and professional status. The denomination claimed that the civil courts lacked jurisdiction to resolve religious disputes such as this. ...

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Posted:
  • January 3, 1994

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