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Pastor, Church & Law

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

Appendix 3: Clergy-Penitent Privilege

Volume 1 . Chapter 4

State-by-State Analysis

Note: The relevant portion of each state's statute or rule of evidence describing the clergy-penitent privilege is set forth below in alphabetical order. All statutes and rules are subject to change, and accordingly this appendix should not be relied upon. To determine the current text of any statute, you should visit a library containing your state statutes, or consult with an attorney.


Alabama Rules of Evidence, Rule 505. Communications to clergymen

  1. Definitions. As used in this rule:

    (1) A "clergyman" is any duly ordained, licensed or commissioned minister, pastor, priest, rabbi or practitioner of any bona fide established church or religious organization; the term "clergyman" includes, and is limited to, any person who regularly, as a vocation, devotes a substantial portion of his or her time and abilities to the service of his or her church or religious organization.

    (2) A communication is "confidential" if it is made privately and is not intended for further disclosure except to other persons present in furtherance of the purpose of the communication.

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