Saturday, July 26, 2008

Clergyman's Pay Dispute With Church Dismissed on First Amendment Grounds

In Jones v. Crestview Southern Baptist Church, (CO Ct. App., July 24, 2008), a Colorado state Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit by Baptist pastor Raymond Jones against his church for back pay allegedly due to him. The court held that "one of the issues to be resolved is whether Jones properly performed his duties as a pastor. " Determining this, the court said, would unconstitutionally entangle it in ecclesiastical matters. Similarly, the court said that adjudicating Jones' "equitable claims for unjust enrichment and quantum meruit would require determinations of the value of his services as a Baptist pastor, a matter that is largely ecclesiastical and thus not subject to court inquiry under the First Amendment."