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

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

§ 2.04.02
Key point 2-04.02. Some courts are willing to resolve disputes over the termination of clergy if they can do so without any inquiry into religious doctrine.

A few courts have ignored the general rule of judicial nonintervention in employment disputes between churches and clergy and have been willing to resolve some disputes if they can do so without inquiring into religious doctrine. Note that such cases occurring before the Supreme Court's 2012 decision in the Hosanna-Tabor case are of dubious value. A few courts have reached this conclusion after Hosanna-Tabor. Note the following examples.

Case study.A Connecticut court ruled that it was not barred by the First Amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving a pastor's claim that his employing church's decision to dismiss him was invalid, since it could resolve the claim on the basis of neutral principles without any inquiry ...

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