Jump directly to the content

Informing Church Members of Disciplinary Action

Court refuses to resolve expelled member's defamation claim.

Key point. 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.

A Tennessee court ruled that it was barred by the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving a church member's defamation claims against his pastor based on a letter that was read to the congregation. A man ("Owen") had attended the same church for 70 years and served as trustee for 30 years. Owen claimed that his pastor gave false information to an attorney about him, which the attorney placed in a letter that was sent to the pastor. The pastor read this letter to the entire congregation during a regular Sunday morning church service. While Owen was not identified as the subject of the letter at the reading, he believed ...

Join now to access this member-only content

Become a Member

Already a member? for full access.

Related Topics:
Posted:
  • November 1, 2010

Related ResourcesVisit Store

50-State Religious Freedom Laws Report
50-State Religious Freedom Laws Report
A review of state laws and court decisions affecting church leaders
Pastor, Church & Law, Fifth Edition
Pastor, Church & Law, Fifth Edition
Learn which local, state, and federal laws apply to religious organizations.