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Woman Sues Pastor for Divulging Confidential Information

Court rules that the First Amendment prevents it from resolving case.

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.

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment guaranty of religious liberty prevented it from resolving a dismissed church member's claim that her pastor committed "professional negligence" by using information she shared with him in confidence as the basis for disciplining her. A church endeavored to operate according to biblical principles and practices as described in the church's constitution and statement of faith. The church required all membership applicants to affirm their willingness to abide by the church's constitution, which contains the following disciplinary policy:

We believe that one of the primary responsibilities ...

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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:
  • January 1, 2008

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