Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Church Property - Part 1
A California court ruled that a disruptive person who engaged in outbursts during church services and harassed members could be legally restrained from the church property.

Key point 7-17. Churches do not have to tolerate persons who disrupt religious services. Church leaders can ask a court to issue an order barring the disruptive person from the church's premises. If the person violates the order, he or she may be removed from church premises by the police, and may be found to be in contempt of court.

Removing Disruptive Individuals

* A California court ruled that a disruptive person who engaged in outbursts during church services and harassed members before and after worship services could be legally restrained from the church property. It's every pastor's worst nightmare—a disgruntled person disrupting a worship service. Unfortunately, such incidents do occur, so church leaders should be familiar with the legal principles that apply. A recent case in California addressed this issue. A former member ("Nancy") of a church disagreed with how the pastor and other church leaders were managing the church. Over the course of several months, she engaged in disruptive conduct on church premises. Sometimes she entered the church, walked up to certain members, and shouted that they were "adulterers" or "agents of Satan" or "demon worshipers." The pastor was one of her prime targets. She approached him and shouted that he was an agent of Satan because he allowed divorced and remarried persons to participate in church ministries. Members of the young adult ministry were so intimidated by her conduct that they met secretly. Those wishing to attend had to dial a telephone number to learn the time and location of the meetings.

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Posted: September 2, 2002
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