Salt Lake City -- A man who sued the LDS Church after his sons were ordained as priests against his wishes lost much of his case at the state appeals court Thursday but still can try to prove that he suffered emotional distress.
The court upheld all but a portion of a judge's ruling that found Michael Gulbraa's claims were religious matters beyond the reach of the judiciary.
In 2005, Gulbraa sued The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 18 months after being told his sons were ordained to the Mormon priesthood in Japan while they were under the care of his former wife.
Gulbraa, who is Mormon, said he had been promised that no ordination would take place without his knowledge and participation.
He accused the church of breach of contract, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Stepping into the dispute "would excessively entangle" the court in religious matters, a violation of the U.S. Constitution, the Utah Court of Appeals said.
But the claim of emotional distress can be argued in 3rd District Court. Gulbraa contends the church concealed information about the location of his children in Japan.
The appeals court said Gulbraa can at least develop that portion of his case, although it could be dismissed depending on evidence.
In March, Gulbraa, of Columbus, Ind., said he wouldn't sue the church if he received a written apology. The church declined.
Church attorneys have said Gulbraa's dispute is with his former wife.