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Recent Developments in Federal Court Regarding Clergy Removal

A federal appeals court ruled that it had no authority to resolve a "wrongful termination" claim brought by a minister against a religious employer.

Federal
State:
Key point. The dismissal of a minister is an ecclesiastical decision, and therefore the civil courts are barred by the first amendment from resolving claims by dismissed ministers that their dismissals were wrongful.

A federal appeals court ruled that it had no authority to resolve a "wrongful termination" claim brought by a minister against a religious employer. In 1991 an outreach program supported by several denominations "called" an ordained United Church of Christ minister to be its executive director. The new director was informed that his position would be an extension of his ministry with the United Church of Christ, and a portion of his compensation was designated as a housing allowance. Within a few years the program began to experience serious financial difficulties. In 1995, the Presbyterian Church, one of the program's main financial supporters, decided that because of ...

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Posted:
  • January 1, 1998

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