Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Churchgoer’s Criminal Stalking Conviction Vacated Due to Free Speech Concerns
Man’s social media posts about a church employee retained First Amendment protections, court says.

A North Carolina court ruled that a church member could not be convicted of violating an anti-stalking statute for posting content to his social media account that offended another member.

An adult male (the “defendant”) met a woman (“Mary”) at a church prior to the start of a Good Friday worship service. Mary was employed in the church's communications department. The two of them were seated at the same table and briefly made small talk in a group setting before separating at the beginning of the service. Upon leaving church that day, Mary did not give any further thought to her encounter with the defendant.

A few weeks later the defendant mailed a five-page handwritten letter to Mary's work address. Mary later testified:

The gist of it was that when [Defendant] first saw me at the Good Friday service he thought he had found his soul mate, and that the feelings he felt were so intense he couldn't talk to me. And then he goes on to say that he used the communications plan to talk to me, to ask me out, rather than for professional reasons.

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Posted: October 7, 2019
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