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Members' Right to Inspect Church Records

When can members inspect church records?

Key point. Most state nonprofit corporation laws give members of a nonprofit corporation a legal right to inspect specified corporate records. Churches incorporated under such laws are subject to these same provisions, meaning that members may have a right to inspect some church records. Such a right of inspection does not violate the first amendment.

A Louisiana court ruled that an incorporated church had to allow members to inspect church records.

Four members asked for permission to inspect the following records of their church: (1) bank statements from 1994; (2) the check register and cancelled checks for all the church's bank accounts from 1994; (3) the cash receipts journal from 1994; and (4) monthly financial reports from 1994. The pastor of the church denied the members' request. The members then sought a court order compelling the church to permit them to inspect the records. ...

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  • November 3, 1997

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