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Defamatory Statements

Expressions of opinion cannot be considered defamation.

Key point. To be defamatory, an utterance must contain a false statement of fact rather than an expression of an opinion.

A Massachusetts court ruled that statements made by a pastor about a member of a church committee could not be defamatory since they were mere expressions of opinion. A member of a church was elected to the Christian Education Committee of the church for three consecutive three—year terms. During the course of her service on the committee, the member and the church's pastor developed a personality conflict and clashed on several occasions on a variety of church—related issues. The pastor communicated her opinion on the member's job performance to the church congregation, and distributed a book entitled "Antagonists of the Church" to members of the church's nominating committee for their consideration in evaluating the member's suitability for renomination ...

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  • September 1, 1997