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Pastor, Church & Law

written by Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Definition of the Terms Pastor, Clergy, and Minister—In General

Volume 1 . Chapter 1 . § 1-02
Key point 1-02. While religious organizations may designate persons as ministers for their religious purposes free from any governmental interference, such a designation does not necessarily determine their legal or tax status.

For the reasons summarized in section 1-01, it often is important to determine if an individual is a minister for legal or tax purposes. This can be a difficult task, given the variety of staff positions in churches and other religious organizations. One court, in attempting to determine whether certain individuals were "ministers," quoted from an earlier decision of the United States Supreme Court: "Candor compels acknowledgment, moreover, that we can only dimly perceive the lines of demarcation in ...

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