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Can i sue my church for defamation of character?

Manistee, MI |

i have gone to the same baptist church my whole life ( i am 27 yrs old), i am technically not a member. I am married with 2 children, and have been having an affair for 8 months. My pastor has threatened to tell everyone in the church in a public fashion what i have been doing unless i repent. Is there any legal steps i can take?

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Attorney answers 3


The posting is very troubling. I do not think your issues invoke a legal solution. It is beyond difficult to understand why anyone would want to go to a "church" where the alleged leader conducts him or herself this way. Find a church with an actual leader.

This answer is offered for informational purposes only. It is not offered as, and does not constitute, legal advice. Laws vary widely from state to state. You should rely only on the advice given to you during a personal consultation by a local attorney who is thoroughly familiar with state laws and the area of practice in which your concern lies.


You cannot sue for defamation based on the facts presented. Truth is an absolute defense to a claim for defamation. In other words, you must prove that the statements made against you are false. If you have actually been having an affair then it wouldn't be false for your pastor to tell people. Further, please be advised that adultery is still on the books as a criminal offense in Michigan.

You might want to consider telling your husband and trying to resolve things amicably before he hears about the affair from someone else first (which usually makes matters worse). Michigan is a no-fault divorce state. The affair should not affect child custody or property division unless you have diverted marital assets or your extramarital relationship has a directly adverse impact on the children (other than contributing to the breakdown of the marriage).

DISCLAIMER: This answer is provided as general information, which may not be appropriate for the specific facts of your particular situation. No attorney-client relationship has been established based on this limited communication. You are advised to consult with an attorney in your jurisdiction before taking any action or inaction that may affect your legal rights.


It sounds like you could not sue your church and win. You have admitted to having an affair. What would the pastor state that was untrue? If the pastor made statements that were not true then maybe you would have a legitimate case. Of course, any case would not arise until the pastor actually says something. It sounds like you have bigger problems to deal with and should focus on those.