Understanding Pastoral Liability

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  • Understanding Pastoral Liability
  • Understanding Pastoral Liability Table of Contents


Few things damage a church as much as accusations against the pastor. Sometimes the accusations are doctrinal and based on opinion and theology; other times the accusations are legal and based on decades of precedent and statutes. In either case, an accusation can shut down an effective, God-glorifying ministry. This overview of eight key areas of liability should be reviewed regularly by the church board, together with the pastor.

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  • 4
    Helpful and Concise Resource

    Posted by Unknown on Feb 26th 2019

    This is a helpful and concise resource for pastors. For Counseling Malpractice, there can be similar liability under the claim of Breach of Fiduciary Duty. It seems this claim has less protections for pastors than Clergy Malpractice and should be considered to be covered in a future version. While there are case laws on both sides, Courts have ruled that a duty can exist insofar as church doctrine need not be interpreted. For Child Abuse Reporting, under point 3 you may consider more direction on the case where the pastor is not a mandatory reporter, but they learn of possible abuse in a situation covered by clergy-penitent privilege. For example, a pastor claims to learn of child abuse while doing pastoral counseling, but does not report it since he is not a mandatory reporter. Is this ok? I have seen Qualified Privilege be a defense to both Defamation and Invasion of Privacy, even when the information shared met all the other criteria in the article.

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