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In Pastor and Deacons Conflict, Court Says Intervention Barred by First Amendment

Key point 2-04.1. Most courts have concluded that they are barred by the First Amendment guarantees of religious freedom and nonestablishment of religion from resolving challenges by dismissed clergy to the legal validity of their dismissals.

An Ohio court ruled that it was barred by the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving an internal church dispute involving the validity of a pastor's removal by the church's board of deacons. For many years, a church was governed by its articles of incorporation and a document titled "Preamble," which apparently served as a set of bylaws. Notably, the Preamble states that the government of the church "is vested in the body of believers who compose it. It is subject to the control of no other ecclesiastical body." Further, the Preamble establishes several offices within the church, including, among others, a pastor, deacons, and trustees. ...

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Posted:
  • December 27, 2016

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