Friday, March 27, 2015

Mississippi Supreme Court: Courts May Not Rule On Dispute Over Removal of Pastor

In Greater Fairview Missionary Baptist Church v. Hollins, (MS Sup. Ct., March 26, 2015), the Mississippi Supreme Court, relying largely on the U.S. Supreme Court's Hosanna-Tabor decision, held that a trial court lacked jurisdiction to impose procedures for a congregation to use in a vote to remove its pastor.  The pastor had initially been placed on administrative leave after being accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a minor.  When church members decided to vote on whether to completely remove him, the pastor sued.  In reversing the trial court, the Supreme Court said in part:
In sum, we find that the chancery judge erred when he treated this ecclesiastical controversy as a secular one—a pastor who is unhappy about being terminated by a church simply does not present a secular controversy.