Pastor escapes civil liability due to Ecclesiastical Abstention Doctrine! This doctrine allows churches to make certain decisions that are protected from review by the court system. It was triggered in this recent Michigan Court of Appeals case.
Amid implications of impropriety, a church’s board of trustees voted to suspend their pastor from the pulpit with pay. The pastor was ultimately convicted of embezzlement and the church later filed suit against him.
The pastor’s defense claims referenced his employment contract but the court ultimately held that the issue was whether the church exceeded its authority in taking action against him. The court opined that “the provision of his services as pastor to the church…is the essence of the church’s constitutionally protected function and ‘any claimed contract for such services likely involves its ecclesiastical policies, [and is] outside the purview of civil law.'”
Unfortunately, impropriety is an all too common occurrence in both non-profit and for-profit organizations. It is important to understand the law- INCLUDING exceptions, like in this case. Questions? Concerns? Contact C&G today!
Take a look at the case here !
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