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Arbitration Rulings in Church Disputes May Be Reviewed by Courts

But only if interpretation of religious doctrine is not involved, court rules.

Federal
State:
Key point: Arbitration rulings involving churches may be subject to civil court review insome situations, but not if any interpretation of religious doctrine is involved.

• Maryland's highest court ruled that an arbitration award addressing the composition of a church's board of trustees was not reviewable by the civil courts since any review would require an interpretation of religious doctrine. A dispute arose within a Primitive Baptist Church regarding control of church property. A faction of the church board (the "dissident faction"), headed by the board's president, claimed that the church had become extinct because its minister had died and there were no living members. This group did not recognize the current congregation to be "members." Another faction of the board opposed the dissidents, and called a special business meeting to elect a new board. The dissident faction ...

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Posted:
  • September 1, 1995

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