Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Pastor Was Validly Demoted and Terminated

In Kim v. Kwon, (CA App., Oct. 19, 2020), a California state appellate court affirmed a trial court's decision that plaintiffs are validly elected directors of Irvine Baptist Church and that they validly demoted and then terminated senior associate pastor David Kwon. The court said in part:

The [Ordained Deacons Committee] ... acted within the scope of its authority under the Church Constitution when it demoted and terminated Kwon....

True, the trial court did not determine whether the ODC had valid grounds to demote or terminate Kwon based on his performance of his ministerial duties. But this is a different question than whether it had the authority to do so. And the court was right to tread lightly there. “The establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as its California counterpart (Cal. Const., art. I, § 4), precludes civil courts from adjudicating [civil or] property disputes based on religious doctrine.”