Bob Jones Nonprofit Status • Conversion Therapy Ban • Sanctuary Churches: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Bob Jones Nonprofit Status • Conversion Therapy Ban • Sanctuary Churches: News Roundup

Bob Jones University Regains Federal Tax-Exempt Status. “In a move that’s been more than two years in the making, Bob Jones University announced [February 15] that it would regain its federal tax-exempt status on March 1, more than three decades after the IRS stripped its nonprofit status following a landmark US Supreme Court ruling. The issue in the court case was the university’s refusal to allow interracial dating or marriage among students, staff or faculty of the university, a rule it has since abandoned. . . . Bob Jones University lost its tax exemption after a 13-year battle with the IRS over whether the university’s policies against interracial dating precluded it as a non-taxable religious educational institution. . . . It’s taken two-and-a-half years for BJU to accomplish the reorganization because it used a complicated plan to split its organization into two entities, with the university falling under the umbrella of its elementary school’s existing non-profit status to achieve its own” (“Bob Jones University regains nonprofit status 17 years after it dropped discriminatory policy,” Greenville Online).

Illinois Ban on Conversion Therapy Not Applicable to Pastoral Counseling. “In Pastors Protecting Youth v. Madigan . . . an Illinois federal district court held that Illinois's Youth Mental Health Protection Act restricting conversion therapy does not apply to religious pastoral counseling. The Act bars mental health providers from offering conversion therapy to minors and prohibits anyone from deceptively offering conversion therapy in trade or commerce. The court concluded that private religious counseling is not ‘trade or commerce.’ The Act was intended to apply only to mental health professionals or to those who deceptively advertise conversion therapy for commercial purposes” (“Illinois Conversion Therapy Ban Does Not Apply to Religious Pastoral Counseling,” Religion Clause).

Church Law & Tax has various resources available pertaining to issues of pastoral counseling: liability, safety, church policy, and more.

Churches Prepare to Provide Sanctuary for Illegal Immigrants. “Across the country, dozens of churches and other faith communities say they're preparing to offer sanctuary to immigrants who are in the country illegally. . . . For years, it's been federal policy not to do immigration enforcement in churches and other ‘sensitive locations,’ such as schools, unless absolutely necessary. That was spelled out in a memo issued by ICE in 2011, under President Obama. The policy is still in place, for now. . . . [I]f new administration changes that policy, it could set up a conflict between two of President Trump's stated priorities: on the one hand, his push for tougher enforcement of the nation's immigration laws, and on the other, his administration's support for religious freedom” (“Sanctuary Churches Brace For Clash With Trump Administration,” NPR).

New Hampshire Church’s Daycare Center Faces Tax Exemption Concerns. “The [Dover] City Council is considering entering a payment in lieu of taxes arrangement with a local church that operates a daycare center. . . . The city's tax assessor, Will Corcoran, identified the daycare and preschool as a property that he does not believe should be tax exempt as a nonprofit religious institution. The Tri-City Covenant Church, based in Somersworth, which operates the daycare center, maintains that the 18 French Cross Road property should be tax exempt. The city and church reached a compromise saying the church would make an annual payment that comes to a portion of what it would normally pay in business taxes. . . . The church has previously filed the property as tax exempt, but City Manager Michael Joyal said the tax assessor has decided to challenge that claim” (“Dover City Council weighs move to tax church’s day care,” Seacoastonline.com).

Read more about requirements for state daycare licensing in this article.

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Due to the nature of the U.S. legal system, laws and regulations constantly change. The editors encourage readers to carefully search the site for all content related to the topic of interest and consult qualified local counsel to verify the status of specific statutes, laws, regulations, and precedential court holdings.

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