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Church Property

A Connecticut court ordered a national church to return control of a local church to the congregation.

Key point 7-03.3. Most courts apply the "neutral principles of law" rule in resolving disputes over the ownership and control of property in "hierarchical" churches. Under this rule, the civil courts apply neutral principles of law, involving no inquiry into church doctrine, in resolving church property disputes. Generally, this means applying neutral legal principles to nondoctrinal language in any one or more of the following documents: (1) deeds to church property; (2) a church's corporate charter; (3) a state law addressing the resolution of church property disputes; (4) church bylaws; or (5) a parent denomination's bylaws.

State Court Rulings Regarding Church Property Disputes

* A Connecticut court ordered a national church to return control of a local church to the congregation. In 1989 a pastor established a local church affiliated with a Protestant denomination (the "national ...

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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:
  • January 1, 2003

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