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

“Marginal” Civil Court Review

§ 6.10.02
Key point 6-10.02. According to the minority view, the civil courts may engage in "marginal review" of disputes involving the discipline of a church member, in a few limited circumstances if they can do so without inquiring into religious doctrine or polity. For example, a few courts have been willing to review membership dismissals in one or more of the following limited circumstances: (1) the church interfered with a member's civil, contract, or property rights; (2) the disciplining body lacked authority to act; (3) the church failed to comply with its governing documents; (4) the church's decision was based on fraud or collusion; or (5) interpretation of contested terminology in the church's governing documents.

Some courts have been willing to intervene, in limited circumstances, in controversies regarding church membership determinations, if they can do so without ...

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