Can I sue a pastor?

Asked over 3 years ago - Hill City, SD

I worked at a church for several years and then left because I could no longer stand to be lied to by the pastor. Several other people left at the same time I did for a variety of reasons, most of which I don't even know. Because I was very friendly and popular, many were hurt by my leaving and called or questioned why I left. I would not talk to them to tell them why, as I had seen him call others "reviler" and gossips and "Jezabels" for leaving long before I left, so I tried to just go quietly. This pastor then held a public meeting after church on a Sun morning and told the poeple to shun me. I have suffered great emotional turmoil and lost friendships. He has spread many more lies then this...how can I make him stop? Hundreds of people have suffered this same plight. HELP!

Additional information

The pastor lied to the church, saying I influenced & spoke to these other people that were leaving, as some of them were friends of mine. I have not spoken to them about this! He told them I gossiped/slandered him, I did not. He told them I tried to get a restraining order against him. I did no such thing. He said I influenced others into leaving,I did not. When I resigned, I told both he & the "leadership' I would only correspond through writing, in email or letter so every word would be documented. I have suffered emotionally, physically making me ill, sought counseling & lost many long time friendships as a result of this abuse. I have had to re-established myself a trustworthy volunteer/faithful servant. He told other pastors I left the church because he tried to "speak truth into" my life & I "would not receive it"! In reality, it was the other way around. He continues to call me a "reviler". This has been one of the most painful experiences of my life.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Kevin W Conner

    Pro

    Contributor Level 9
    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . In my state (Washington), this would fall under the intentional tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. Check with a local attorney to see whether your state has a similar intentional tort.

  2. Robert Daniel Kelly

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Some States recognize a "pastor-penitent" privilege which prevents the courts from requiring a pastor to testify regarding what a person confesses in a confidential setting.
    As far as I know, there is no special privilege which allows pastors to commit defamation of character.
    Perhaps you should call an attorney to discuss the details of your particular circumstances.

    [In accordance with the Avvo community guidelines, this communication does not constitute "legal advice", nor does... more
  3. Jeffrey Mark Adams

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Was just about to post essentially the same answer as the other contributor. Truth is not actionable, lieing is. Good luck.

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