In Kelly v. St. Luke Community United Methodist Church, (TX App., Feb. 1, 2018), a Texas state appellate court applied the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine to dismiss most of the claims brought by a fired church Director of Operations. The court said in part:the substance of Kelly’s claims for negligence, fraud, misrepresentation, age and sex discrimination, and  defamatory statements published within the church community relates to internal matters of church governance and each of those claims is “inextricably intertwined” with those internal matters…. While the elements of those claims can be ascertained using secular principles, the application of those principles to impose civil liability on appellees would impinge upon the church’s ability to manage its internal affairs.However the court allowed plaintiff to move ahead with her  defamation claim based on statements published to persons outside the church.



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