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Recent Developments in Ohio Regarding Clergy Selection

An Ohio court ruled that it could invalidate a church's election of a pastor if the election violated the church's bylaws and if it could resolve the dispute without any inquiry into religious doctrine.

Ohio
State:
Key point. Most courts have concluded that they are prohibited by the first amendment from resolving lawsuits addressing a church's selection of a minister.
Key point. A minority of courts have been willing to resolve lawsuits addressing a church's selection of a minister if the church failed to follow its bylaws, and the case can be resolved without any inquiry into religious doctrine.

An Ohio court ruled that it could invalidate a church's election of a pastor if the election violated the church's bylaws and if it could resolve the dispute without any inquiry into religious doctrine. A group of church members asked a court to invalidate the church's election of a new pastor on the ground that the election failed to comply with the church bylaws. A trial court ruled that the church breached its bylaws in the election of its pastor and therefore the election was not a legal action ...

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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, 1998

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