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Clergy—Removal

A federal court in Texas ruled that the first amendment prohibited it from resolving a wrongful dismissal and “racketeering” claim brought by a pastor against his denomination.

Key point 2-04.1. Most courts have concluded that they are barred by the first amendment guarantees of religious freedom and nonestablishment of religion from resolving challenges by dismissed clergy to the legal validity of their dismissals.
Termination

* A federal court in Texas ruled that the first amendment prohibited it from resolving a wrongful dismissal and "racketeering" claim brought by a pastor against his denomination. A minister (Pastor Allen) ordained by the African Methodist Episcopal Church ("AME Church") sued his Church for breach of contract and violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). The lawsuit arose out of an alleged scheme by a Church leader to collect funds from church members through "pre-offerings" in order to maintain his lavish lifestyle. Pastor Allen alleged that other Church leaders were aware of this activity but ...

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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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