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Federal Court Barred from Resolving Dismissed Member's Lawsuit

Ex-member unable to sue church leaders for misappropriation of church funds.

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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.

A federal appeals court ruled that it was barred by the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving a dismissed church member's lawsuit accusing church leaders of financial improprieties and breach of their fiduciary duties. An individual (the "plaintiff"), on behalf of himself and all members of his church, filed a lawsuit in which he alleged that the pastor and board of trustees (the "defendants") were guilty of a misappropriation of church funds and a breach of their fiduciary duties. A federal district court dismissed the lawsuit on the ground that the pastor had dismissed the ...

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Posted:
  • August 21, 2013

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