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Lawsuit Challenges Church's Selection of Pastor

Court rules that it cannot intervene.

Ohio
State:
Key point. The civil courts are prohibited by the first amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving internal church disputes involving ecclesiastical issues such as the selection of clergy.
Key point. The civil courts will not resolve lawsuits brought by church members who fail to pursue or "exhaust" their remedies under their own church's constitution or bylaws.

An Ohio court ruled that it had no legal authority to resolve a lawsuit challenging a church's selection of a new pastor. Certain members of a church were dissatisfied with the method in which their pastor was chosen. They sued their church and its deacons and pastor, asking a court to declare the selection of the pastor "null and void" and to enter an order forbidding the church from installing him or paying him any compensation. The members insisted that the case involved "secular" matters which a civil ...

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Posted:
  • September 1, 1997

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