The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Court questions 'privilege'

A New Jersey appeals court recently ruled that a private conversation with a religious leader isn’t always “privileged”—protected from being revealed in court.

The decision stated that in order for conversation to be withheld from testimony, the religious leader must be acting as a spiritual adviser.

The ruling was made in a case in which a man accused of sexual abuse of his daughters had met with his wife’s pastor, who said he refused to counsel the man but rather told him to get psychological help and urged him to go to the police.

Prosecutors sought to have the pastor’s testimony included in the trial, which had been blocked at a pretrial hearing.


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March issue

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