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Church Members Sue to Remove Minister

Courts are not permitted to interfere in "ecclesiastical matters".

Key point. It is the prevailing view that the civil courts are prohibited by the first amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving lawsuits addressing the question of "who will preach from the pulpit" of a church.

An Ohio court refused to resolve an internal church dispute concerning alleged financial improprieties by the pastor. Several church members asked the church board to investigate the allegedly wrongful conduct of their pastor, and to terminate his employment. Specifically, they alleged that the pastor had failed to pay a promissory note to the church when the note became due; that he improperly charged the church for expenses for his personal business; that he improperly concealed an order of garnishment against him that allegedly resulted in a judgment against the church; that he improperly removed funds from the church's investment account; and that he misappropriated ...

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  • July 1, 1997

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