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Court To Determine Whether Board Members May Serve

In a few cases, a court may resolve such disputes.

Key point. The civil courts have consistently ruled that they cannot resolve disputes concerning the eligibility and status of church board members if any consideration of religious doctrine would be required. However, a small minority of courts have ruled that they can resolve such disputes if they can do so without considering religious doctrine.

A Missouri court ruled that it could determine whether two board members of a religious organization were qualified to serve, since it could do so without considering religious doctrine. A synagogue created a subsidiary corporation and transferred all of its property to the subsidiary in an attempt to protect its assets from liability. The subsidiary was incorporated as a nonprofit corporation under state law. Its bylaws specified that board members had to be members of the synagogue. A dispute arose among members of the subsidiary's board, ...

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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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Posted:
  • May 1, 1997

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