Historic church goes to court to defend right to choose its pastor

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Federal appellate court to hear church's case next week in Philadelphia

Media Release Date

Media Contact

Melinda Skea

Additional Information

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church of Pittsburgh, a historic church founded in the late 1800s and located in one of the City’s poorest communities, will be in federal appellate court next Thursday, July 12, to defend its right to choose its own religious leaders free from government interference. In Lee v. Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, the small African American congregation is facing a $2.6 million lawsuit from its former pastor, Rev. David Lee, who was fired after worship attendance plummeted and church expenses doubled under his leadership. A federal trial court previously rejected Rev. Lee’s lawsuit, protecting the church’s right to choose its own leaders under Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC, a case Becket won at the Supreme Court in 2012. Rev. Lee appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. The appeal will be the first time since Hosanna-Tabor for the Third Circuit to consider the First Amendment right of churches to select their ministers.

What:

Oral Argument in Lee v. Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church

Who:

Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket

When:

Thursday, July 12, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. EST

Where:

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

601 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19106

A Becket attorney will be available for comment immediately following the hearing a Twitter Live statement.

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Melinda Skea atmedia@becketlaw.orgor 202-349-7224.Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.

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