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

Clergy-Parishioner Relationship

§ 3.08.01
Key point 3-08.01. The courts have not required that a counselee be a church member in order for communications to a minister to qualify for the clergy-penitent privilege. However, church membership is a factor that the courts have considered in deciding if the privilege applies to a particular communication.

Most courts that have addressed the question have concluded that a person need not be a member of a minister's church in order to invoke the clergy-penitent privilege.[122] Kohloff v. Bronx Savings Bank, 233 N.Y.S.2d 849 (1962). As a result, even though the person making the communication is not a member of the minister's church, his or her confidential communications to the minister generally will be privileged. This certainly is the correct ...

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