Saturday, October 04, 2014

Pastor's Claim of Wrongful Termination Is Dismissed

In Simons v. Lewis, (NJ App., Oct. 2, 2014), a New Jersey appellate court affirmed the trial court's dismssal of a lawsuit by a church's senior pastor who was ousted from his position. The appellate court said in part:
Where, as here, a church's governing body determines that the church's pastor is spiritually disqualified from continuing to serve the congregation, the courts cannot interfere without trenching on the church's right of self-governance and its First Amendment right to choose its clergy.
The court also held that the "clean hands" doctrine prevents the pastor from arguing that the board members who removed him lacked authority to do so. His claim was that he lacked authority to appoint the board members that he did.