Jump directly to the Content

Pastor, Church & LawMember access only

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

Church Records

§ 3.08.11
Key point 3-08.11. The clergy-penitent privilege applies to confidential communications by counselees while seeking spiritual advice from clergy. As a result, it does not apply to church records, with the possible exception of written notes kept by clergy of communications covered by the clergy-penitent privilege.

What if your church were served with a subpoena demanding that various financial records, membership records, and a pastor's counseling notes be turned over to an attorney? How would you react? Many church leaders consider such demands to be inappropriate, and resist turning over internal church records. Is this a legally appropriate response? Does the law exempt churches from having to turn over internal church records in response to a subpoena? These are important questions for which there has been little direction from the courts.

One of the leading cases is a decision by ...

Join now to access this member-only content

Become a Member

Already a member? for full access.

Table of Contents

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.