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Church Membership

A Michigan court ruled that it was barred from resolving an internal church dispute since it could not do so without delving into church doctrine.

Key point 6-09.1. The procedure for selecting members generally is defined by a church's governing documents. The civil courts have refrained from resolving disputes over the selection of members on the ground that the first amendment guaranty of religious freedom prevents them from deciding whether or not individuals satisfy the requirements for church membership.
Church Members

* A Michigan court ruled that it was barred by the first amendment from resolving an internal church dispute since it could not do so without delving into church doctrine. A dispute arose in a church, resulting in the church's "disfellowshiping" of several members. Members of the church sought a court order prohibiting the disfellowshiped members from attending the church. The disfellowshiped members countered by arguing that they had been wrongfully disfellowshiped, and that a majority of the church's membership ...

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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, 2003

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