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Church Member's Arrest Justified

Individuals who send threatening communications to a pastor can face criminal liability.

New York
State:

Key point. An array of civil and criminal remedies are available to clergy who receive communications that threaten harm or death.

A New York federal court ruled that a police officer acted properly in arresting a church member who sent the pastor a series of threatening emails.

Background

A church member (the “plaintiff”) sent a series of text messages to the church’s pastor in which he claimed to have been offended by some of the religious views expressed by the pastor in his sermons. The plaintiff's messages included the following statements:

While I am learning, what it means to love my enemy, and I am not fully there; I don’t like you, nor the wickedness that you do, from the pulpit. . . . You keep provoking with your attacks from the pulpit, you keep telling your one-sided story from the pulpit, and this can leave two wives without husbands, and children without ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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Posted:
  • May 25, 2020

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