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Accusations of Defamation

Statements concerning the discipline of members cannot be defamatory unless made with malice.

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 not apply if the statements are made to nonmembers.

* A Kentucky court ruled that two dismissed church members could not sue the church and board of deacons for defamation as a result of statements made about them in the course of a disciplinary proceeding, since such statements were protected by a "qualified privilege." A ...

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  • May 1, 2007