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Defamation

A Florida court ruled that a pastor could sue two members of his church for defamation as a result of statements they made during a church business meeting.

Key point 4-02.02. Ministers are considered "public figures" and as a result they cannot be defamed unless the person making an otherwise defamatory remark did so with malice. In this context, malice means that the person making the defamatory remark either had actual knowledge that it was false or made it with a reckless disregard as to its truth or falsity.

* A Florida court ruled that a pastor could sue two members of his church for defamation as a result of statements they made during a church business meeting falsely accusing him of purchasing a new Mercedes automobile with cash he had stolen from the church. A pastor (Pastor Dennis) sued two church members for defamation as a result of statements the members made during a church business meeting. Pastor Dennis claimed that the members falsely stated that he had purchased a Mercedes automobile with cash, using money he stole from ...

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  • November 1, 2005

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50-State Religious Freedom Laws Report
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A review of state laws and court decisions affecting church leaders.