'Most Significant Religious Case in 20 Years'
The 'ministerial exception' rule faces its day with Supreme Court.

A news article from the July edition ofChristianity Today covers the U.S. Supreme Court's April decision to accept a teacher's appeal regarding an unfair firing claim against a Michigan elementary school run by a church.

At stake: How far a rule known as "ministerial exception" will go in matters of employment within churches and religious groups. Lower courts have stayed out of employment disputes between clergy and churches based upon this exception. What's unclear is how widely the rule can apply to nonordained staff members. The Supreme Court's decision to intervene likely will answer that question.

Richard Hammar again highlighted this case last week during his annual law and tax presentation to the National Association of Church Business Administration (he also explained the importance of this development in this short video update).

Hammar told Christianity Today he doesn't expect the Supreme Court to limit the exception to "ordained pastors performing pastoral duties." Other observers are wary. Rick Garnett, associate dean of the University of Notre Dame Law School, says the case is the country's most significant one to religious freedom in 20 years, giving church leaders nationwide good reason to monitor its progress throughout the next year.

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