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Judge throws church dispute out of court

July 28, 2007 at 6:23 PM

COLUMBUS, Ohio, July 28 (UPI) -- An Ohio judge has dismissed a lawsuit by members of a church who claim their pastor robbed them, saying he was being forced to decide religious matters.

Members of the World of Pentecost Church in Columbus believe the Rev. David Thompson and other leaders misappropriated about $1 million in church funds, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Judge Charles Schneider, in a ruling handed down July 10, said the church bylaws contain so many biblical citations that deciding whether Thompson had violated them would have forced him to rule on the Bible.

"To truly control this matter, the court would have to control the very service itself," he said.

Several legal experts told the newspaper embezzlement is a matter the courts should be able to deal with and the judge should have been able to separate out those matters falling under his jurisdiction.

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