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Some Of Fired Pastor’s Claims Can Move Ahead


In Nation Ford Baptist Church Inc. v. Davis, (NC Sup.Ct., Aug. 19, 2020), the North Carolina Supreme Court allowed a Pastor to move ahead with a portion of his claims challenging his firing, saying in part:

Which set of corporate bylaws were in effect at the relevant time, whether the Church and Board followed the procedures set forth in the bylaws, and whether there was a contract of employment between Pastor Davis and the Church that was breached are factual and legal questions that are appropriately answered by reference to neutral principles of corporate, employment, and contract law….

Nonetheless, other claims raise questions that cannot be answered without considering spiritual matters. These claims must be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction….

[I]n all other respects the first claim for relief goes too far, particularly in the remedy sought, because the court can neither declare Pastor Davis the spiritual leader of the Church nor require that he be allowed to conduct services. Addressing this controversy would entangle the court in religious matters such as whether Pastor Davis adequately performed his duties as a pastor as that role is understood in accordance with the Church’s faith and religious traditions.

[Thanks to Will Esser via Religionlaw for the lead.]


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