Disruptive Church Members

An adult male who exhibited bizarre behavior in his church and community could not be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital since he was not a danger to himself.

Key point 7-17. Churches do not have to tolerate persons who disrupt religious services. Church leaders can ask a court to issue an order barring the disruptive person from the church’s premises. If the person violates the order, he or she may be removed from church premises by the police, and may be found to be in contempt of court.

An Oregon court ruled that an adult male who exhibited bizarre behavior in his church and community could not be involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital since he was not a danger to himself.

A man (Don) went to church wearing underwear on the outside of his pants and either shirts or underwear wrapped around his head. He initially believed that he was to marry the pastor’s daughter that day, but after arriving at the church, he asked a number of other women to marry him. He became angry in response to church members’ reactions to him. He was taken to the hospital by members of the church. At the hospital, Don became belligerent and had to be forcibly taken to the floor by security guards and placed in restraints.

Don had a history of difficulties arising from his mental disorder. After having been stable for a number of years, his condition began to deteriorate after he stopped taking several medications that had been prescribed. Just prior to the incident at church, Don was involuntarily committed after he physically intimidated and threatened to kill his father and proclaimed that he was the savior and that he planned to be crucified in public.

Don was committed to a psychiatric hospital pursuant to a state law authorizing the civil commitment of persons who either cannot meet their basic needs or are a danger to themselves. A state court ruled that Don had been improperly committed since there was insufficient evidence that he met either ground for involuntary commitment. It concluded: “The record establishes at most a pattern of odd behavior suggesting that, unless Don received appropriate medical care, he was likely to engage in similar behavior again in the future. But there is no evidence that any of the events that made up that pattern of behavior actually led to or even were likely to lead to him being harmed in any way. Consequently, there is no reason to believe that, if he continued to behave in similar ways, his behavior was likely to result in harm to him.” 135 P.3d 397 (Ore. App. 2006).

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is sold with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations." Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

ajax-loader-largecaret-downcloseHamburger Menuicon_amazonApple PodcastsBio Iconicon_cards_grid_caretChild Abuse Reporting Laws by State IconChurchSalary Iconicon_facebookGoogle Podcastsicon_instagramLegal Library IconLegal Library Iconicon_linkedinLock IconMegaphone IconOnline Learning IconPodcast IconRecent Legal Developments IconRecommended Reading IconRSS IconSubmiticon_select-arrowSpotify IconAlaska State MapAlabama State MapArkansas State MapArizona State MapCalifornia State MapColorado State MapConnecticut State MapWashington DC State MapDelaware State MapFederal MapFlorida State MapGeorgia State MapHawaii State MapIowa State MapIdaho State MapIllinois State MapIndiana State MapKansas State MapKentucky State MapLouisiana State MapMassachusetts State MapMaryland State MapMaine State MapMichigan State MapMinnesota State MapMissouri State MapMississippi State MapMontana State MapMulti State MapNorth Carolina State MapNorth Dakota State MapNebraska State MapNew Hampshire State MapNew Jersey State MapNew Mexico IconNevada State MapNew York State MapOhio State MapOklahoma State MapOregon State MapPennsylvania State MapRhode Island State MapSouth Carolina State MapSouth Dakota State MapTennessee State MapTexas State MapUtah State MapVirginia State MapVermont State MapWashington State MapWisconsin State MapWest Virginia State MapWyoming State IconShopping Cart IconTax Calendar Iconicon_twitteryoutubepauseplay