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First Amendment Rights VS. Freedom of Religion

Hello Experts and thank you in advance for your assistance. Please review the following case example:

Steve recently joined a church. Church doctrine required that members reveal any personal indiscretions to the leaders of the church. Steve disclosed some of his personal indiscretions to the leaders of the church. After his disclosures, these leaders informed Steve that they intended to tell other members of the church about his indiscretions because they thought the church leaders might help him overcome his problems. Steve was dismayed that this personal information might be disclosed. He told the church leaders about his intention to leave the church rather than have his problems disclosed. The church leaders informed him that their next step was to tell the members of the church, his neighbors, and his employer about his problems.

This case study is an example of the balance between First Amendment rights and freedom of religion. Based on this case study, examine Steve's rights in terms of libel and the invasion of privacy torts by addressing the following issues and questions.

? Which of the four privacy torts are involved with regard to this case? Is this a case of libel?
? Does the expectation of privacy apply to the facts in the case?
? Discuss the defenses to the tort of libel and the privacy torts regarding Steve's lawsuit.
? Is there a legal difference in disclosing personal indiscretions to church elders, to members of the church, or to members of the public?

Thank you again for your assistance.

Solution Preview

Please see the below. Some thoughts and links addressing the above. Good luck!

? Which of the four privacy torts are involved with regard to this case? Is this a case of libel?
There is a public disclosure of private facts: "the dissemination of truthful private information which a reasonable person would find objectionable." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy_laws_of_the_United_States)

Other sources to look at:
http://www.citmedialaw.org/legal-guide/publication-private-facts
http://privacy.uslegal.com/what-constitutes-a-violation/public-disclosure/
http://www.privacilla.org/releases/Torts_Report.html

While this case does have some strong elements of libel, the information disseminated is true (Steve provided the infomation) and thus, would not qualify under libel. Also, the goal of further disclosure was not to defame Steve; it was to help him. In this situation, one may likely try to sue for libel, but given that the information in question was provided by Steve and thus true, a libel case is not strong.

? Does the expectation of privacy apply to the facts in the case?
Yes. I would argue that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in this situation. When confessing in or to a church, it is wide-held societal opinion that the ...

Solution Summary

The first amendment rights versus the freedom of religion is examined.

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