Bathroom Bill • Sexual Assault Lawsuit • Sanctuary Church: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Bathroom Bill • Sexual Assault Lawsuit • Sanctuary Church: News Roundup

Episcopal Church Leaders Voice Opposition to Texas Bathroom Bill. “As the Texas Senate prepares to consider legislation to restrict bathroom use for transgender Texans in legislative overtime, the national Episcopal Church is renewing its opposition to such proposals. Citing the ‘emotional and spiritual damage that discrimination does to transgender people,’ top leaders of the national church—Presiding Bishop Michael Curry and the Reverend Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies—in a letter to House Speaker Joe Straus urged the speaker to remain ‘steadfast’ in his opposition to any bathroom bill. ‘As the presiding officers of the Episcopal Church, we are firmly opposed to “bathroom bills” and particularly reject the idea that women and children are protected by them,’ the two high officials wrote. ‘As clergy who remember racist Jim Crow bathroom laws that purported to protect white people, we know the kind of hatred and fear that discriminatory laws can perpetuate.’ The letter, dated July 19, was received just before a Senate committee is set to consider two measures that would restrict bathroom use in government buildings and public schools based on the sex listed on a person's birth certificate—a proposal that would keep most transgender Texans from using bathrooms that match their gender identity” (“National Episcopal Church urges defeat of Texas ‘bathroom bill,’The Texas Tribune).

For more on churches and public accommodations laws, read attorney Richard Hammar’s feature article in the latest issue of Church Law & Tax Report.

California Priest Accused of Sexually Assaulting Assistant. “A senior Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Orange sexually assaulted and harassed a female church employee last year at a prominent Irvine parish where he was placed despite a similar prior accusation, according to a lawsuit filed by the woman. Father Alex Kim is accused by his former assistant of sexually assaulting her several times at St. John Neumann Catholic Church. She alleged in the suit that she felt compelled to take a leave of absence to avoid his attacks. . . . The woman, who is identified only as Jane Doe in the lawsuit, has known Kim since she was a child and described him as once being her spiritual mentor, the suit says. In a statement, the diocese said Kim was ‘immediately removed from public ministry in September 2016 after the Diocese was made aware of the allegation in this case.’ The statement emphasized that Kim was not accused of misconduct involving minors and said the diocese ‘vehemently denies the claims made in this case by an adult former employee and looks forward to the opportunity to defend itself in court, where it is confident that justice will prevail.’ The diocese said it could not comment further, citing state law that protects the privacy of employee personnel records” (“Lawsuit accuses O.C. priest of sexually assaulting his assistant at Irvine church,The Los Angeles Times).

This downloadable resource provides guidance on creating a safe, harassment-free environment at your church.

Connecticut Church Provides Sanctuary to Immigrant Mother Facing Deportation. “[A] single mother of four who has been living in the United States for 24 years is now seeking refuge in a New Haven, Connecticut church in an attempt to avoid deportation. Nury Chavarria, a Guatemala native, and her four children must wait as her legal team attempts to secure some kind of relief for her. Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, all Democrats, have rallied around her in support, along with community activists and volunteers. . . . Chavarria has four children and is their sole caretaker. Her eldest son, who is 21 years old, has cerebral palsy, according to Formica. Her youngest daughter, Hayley Gabriella Chavarria, is nine years old, and she publicly appealed to President Trump not to separate her family. . . . The church's pastor, Hector Otero, told reporters that he hopes his church's support highlights the significance of Chavarria's case” (“Mother of four residing in church as lawyers seek to stay her deportation,” CNN).

Learn more about immigration issues and your church with this downloadable resource.

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Emily Lund is Assistant Editor for Church Law & Tax.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations."

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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