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Church Finance Disputes

Court rules that it cannot resolve a claim relating to a church's financial expenditures.

Key point 9-07. The First Amendment allows civil courts to resolve internal church disputes so long as they can do so without interpreting doctrine or polity.

A Texas court ruled that it was barred by the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving a dismissed church member's lawsuit accusing his former church of defamation, emotional distress, and fraud. A church member ("Steve") became concerned about his church's financial expenditures, and shared his concerns with several members of the board of elders. He was dissatisfied with the church's response, and resigned his membership in the church. He then began emailing church members about the church's alleged misuse of its resources. He encouraged those he contacted to leave the church and to "rise up" against the pastor. His conduct upset some church members and caused disruption within the congregation.

Steve sued the pastor ...

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Posted:
  • March 1, 2010

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