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Pastor, Church & Law

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

Civil Court Review of Termination Disputes—Limited Exceptions to the General Rule

Volume 1 . Chapter 2 . § 2-04.2
Key point 2-04.2. Some courts are willing to resolve disputes over the termination of clergy if they can do so without any inquiry into religious doctrine.

Some courts have suggested that they have authority to review clergy terminations under one or more of the following circumstances:

(1) Fraud or collusion

As noted in the previous subsection, the United States Supreme Court has suggested that the civil courts can review clergy terminations if "fraud or collusion" are alleged.171 However, the mere assertion that a dismissal was based on fraud or collusion will not suffice, since the Supreme Court has required that the alleged fraud or collusion be motivated "by bad faith for secular purposes."172

It would be extraordinary indeed for a religious organization ...

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