Can the Courts Regulate Pastoral Counselors?

One of your Alabama Supreme Court justices says no. You may remember the Bailey v Faulkner case, in which the Alabama Supreme Court wrestled with the reprehensible conduct of a Montgomery pastor. Now Justice Tom Parker, the Roy Moore clone, has issued a late concurring opinion.

His opinion doesn’t have the weight of law and is only his reasoning. In it, Parker argues that Alabama should not recognize the tort of clergy malpractice. He argues that a pastor’s status derives from the church rather than the state and that the advice he or she provides is theological rather than practical.

Bailey’s actions lie outside the authority of this Court to remedy or avenge. If Mr. Faulkner would seek further redress, he should do so in the ecclesiastical court of his church or denomination (see, e.g., Matthew 18:15-18 and I Corinthians 5:12, 6:1-5), which may order Bailey to provide restitution that this Court may not order to ameliorate the financial hardship of the divorce. If Bailey were to refuse a church order requiring him to provide restitution, the church court could excommunicate him or apply other Biblical discipline as a sanction for that refusal.