Daniel Coffman


This Note will examine whether the “strict title” application of the neutral principles taken by Gashland is a more preferable approach than the interpretation and application of the neutral principles in other jurisdictions. This Note will discuss whether Gashland squares with the Supreme Court of the United States’ prior decisions involving church property disputes and whether Gashland’s strict title approach is most true to the principles set forth in the leading case on the issue, Jones v. Wolf. This Note will first review the facts and holding of Gashland. It will then chronicle the history of church property jurisprudence in Missouri and the Supreme Court of the United States. Next, this Note will outline the reasoning of the Gashland court. Finally, this Note will analyze the dicta in Jones that has led to the deep split in how to apply the neutral principles of law approach to church property disputes. Specifically, this Note will advocate for the application of the neutral principles approach outlined in Gashland on the basis that it represents the most accurate reading of Jones and because its application is most in line with the Supreme Court of the United States’ First Amendment jurisprudence.

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