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Church Membership

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that a dismissed church member no longer had a legal right to inspect church records.

Key point 6-03.1. Church members generally have no right to inspect church records unless such a right is conferred by state nonprofit corporation law, a church's charter or bylaws, state securities law (if the church has issued securities), or a subpoena. Church records enjoy no privilege against disclosure, with the exception of documents that are protected by the clergy-penitent privilege under state law.
Key point 6-10.1. According to the majority view, the civil courts will not resolve disputes challenging a church's discipline of a member since the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom prevents them from deciding who are members in good standing of a church.
Key point 6-10.3. The civil courts will not resolve a dispute contesting the discipline of a church member if the member failed to "exhaust" remedies available under the church's own governing documents. ...

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Posted:
  • January 2, 2006

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