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Clergy—Removal

A Massachusetts court ruled that the civil courts are barred by the first amendment from resolving clergy employment disputes.

Callahan v. First Congregational Church, 808 N.E.2d 301 (Mass. Sup. 2004)
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.
Key point 4-02.03. A number of defenses are available to one accused of defamation. These include truth, statements made in the course of judicial proceedings, consent, and self-defense. In addition, statements made to church members about a matter of common interest to members are protected by a "qualified privilege," meaning that they cannot be defamatory unless they are made with malice. In this context, malice means that the person making the statements knew that they were false or made them with a reckless disregard as to their truth or falsity. This privilege will ...

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Posted:
  • May 2, 2005

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