Shannon sued the Church, claiming among other things that it violated the non-disparagement provision. The court held in part:
We may interpret a contract in a civil law controversy in purely secular terms when doing so does not require us to rely on religious precepts or resolve a religious controversy.... Making the determination of whether the Church disparaged Shannon merely involves interpreting the contract as a matter of law and applying the facts as found by the fact finder. Moreover, under these circumstances, we are not required to intervene in the hiring, firing, discipline, or administration of the Church’s clergy, address the Church’s standards of morality, or address any other matters traditionally held to involve religious doctrine.... We conclude that this lawsuit, revolving around the Church’s purported disparagement of Shannon in violation of the Agreement, is a civil law controversy in which Church officials happen to be involved.... Accordingly, the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine does not apply.The court also concluded that the trial court had erred in invoking several other grounds for dismissing Shannon's claims. It affirmed only the trial court's dismissal of Shannon's intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.
UPDATE: On Sept. 1, 2015, the court denied a motion for rehearing and filed a Substitute Opinion: 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 9312.