What May Church, Pastor Litigate in Court?
Church claims breach of contract and trespass; Pastor claims conversion, breach of fiduciary duty, etc.
The First Amendment prohibits courts from taking jurisdiction of church disputes involving ecclesiastical issues, but permits them to exercise jurisdiction where the questions can be resolved under neutral principles of law. The Supreme Court of Alabama has recently been asked to apply these concepts in a dispute involving a church in Clarke County. The Court has held that courts do not have jurisdiction to decide the dispute over whether the pastor can remain in his position, but that they do have jurisdiction to decide the pastor’s claims that the deacon board misspent church funds. ( St. Union Baptist Church v. Howard , Supreme Ct, AL, No. 1141132, 5/13/16. ) The church has existed for...
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