news report of the facts of the case (at least as they were reported). The Court's opinion is in full here.
The Court found:
In concluding that the Pfeils’ claims must be dismissed, we do not minimize the concerns that brought them to court. We recognize that LaVonne Pfeil, a lifelong resident of Worthington and longstanding member of the St. Matthew congregation, believes that the Church’s statements besmirched her reputation and that of her deceased husband, Henry Pfeil, a grievous injury to the family name. But the separation of church and state, a principle enshrined in the Minnesota and United States Constitutions, prevents a district court from determining the merits of the Pfeils’ dispute with their former church. Our decision here does not excuse any defamatory behavior that may have occurred in a sacred setting; it merely honors the separation of church and state by avoiding secular intrusion into the heart of religious concerns: who may be a member of the church; what standards of behavior are required of them; and how and when members may be disciplined.
It appears the Court was not unsympathetic to the arguments of the claimant but was constrained by the separation of church and state to prevent them from acting. Interesting. Sad. Situations like this are always sad. But sometimes they are unavoidable. I know not the facts here except as they were reported but it is nothing if not sad.