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Former Organist Sues Church

Court rules that church organist is not a ministerial employee.

Key Point 2-04.1 Most courts have concluded that they are barred by the first amendment guarantees of religious freedom and non establishment of religion from resolving challenges by dismissed clergy to the legal validity of their dismissals.

Maryland's highest state court ruled that it was not barred by the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving a former church organist's lawsuit against his former church, since he was not a "ministerial" employee. An 11-year-old boy (the "plaintiff") began working for a church as its organist in 1958, and served until 1976. From 1976 to 1991 he pursued other employment, and then returned to the church as its organist from 1991 to 2001. During all of these years he served the church without a written employment contract. In 2001, the plaintiff entered into a two-year employment contract with the church to serve as its "organist/pianist/keyboard ...

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Posted:
  • March 3, 2008

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