Case Title

The North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, Inc. v. Will McRaney (No. 20-1158)

Document Type

Briefs and Court Filings

Publication Date



The case concerns the "church autonomy doctrine" based on the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, which declares that courts may not inquire into matters of church government or into disputes of faith and doctrine. Will McRaney was fired from a leadership position in the Southern Baptist Convention because of a conflict over policies relating to the expansion of the Baptist faith. He sued the Southern Baptist Convention in tort.

The district court dismissed the suit on the grounds of the church autonomy doctrine. The Fifth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal as "premature," asserting that there were possible neutral principles of law independent of the church autonomy doctrine that might be applicable to the case. The amicus brief in support of a petition of certiorari to the Supreme Court argues that the district court was correct in determining that the church autonomy doctrine requires dismissal of the suit.