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Neutral Principle of Law Applied to Church Property Dispute

In many cases, a court may resolve a dispute over church property.

New York
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Key point 7-03.3. Most courts apply the "neutral principles of law" rule in resolving disputes over the ownership and control of property in "hierarchical" churches. Under this rule, the civil courts apply neutral principles of law, involving no inquiry into church doctrine, in resolving church property disputes. Generally, this means applying neutral legal principles to nondoctrinal language in any one or more of the following documents: (1) deeds to church property; (2) a church's corporate charter; (3) a state law addressing the resolution of church property disputes; (4) church bylaws; or (5) a parent denomination's bylaws.

Key point 7-04. Churches and denominational agencies can avoid church property disputes by adopting appropriate nondoctrinal language in deeds, trusts, local church bylaws, or denominational bylaws.

A New York court ruled that the property of a church that seceded from ...

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Posted:
  • May 1, 2011

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