Monday, February 05, 2018

Ministerial Exception Does Not Apply When Defendant Is Not Plaintiff's Employer

In McRaney v. North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Inc., (ND MS, Jan. 18, 2018), a Mississippi federal district court rejected ministerial exception and ecclesiastical abstention defenses in a suit alleging intentional interference with business relationships, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. At issue was the termination of plaintiff, the executive director of the General Mission Board of the Baptist Convention for Maryland/ Delaware, at the insistence of defendant NAMB. The court held that the ministerial exception doctrine does not apply when the defendant in a lawsuit is not the employer of plaintiff. The court also held that adjudicating plaintiff's claims will not necessarily involve examination of church doctrine or internal church governance. The Message reports on the decision.