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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Cases Recognizing the Ministerial Exception

Volume 3 . Chapter 8, Part 3 . § 8-10.1
Key Point 8-10.1 The civil courts have consistently ruled that the First Amendment prevents them from applying employment laws to the relationship between a church and a minister.

Summarized below are several illustrative cases applying the ministerial exception to discrimination claims brought by current or former church employees against their employer.

Case Studies

Federal Appeals Court Rulings

D.C. Circuit (District of Columbia)

• A federal appeals court made the following observation in a case involving a dismissed minister's claim of unlawful discrimination: "This case involves the fundamental question of who will preach from the pulpit of a church, and who will occupy the church parsonage. The bare statement of the question should make ...

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