A “First” in Religious Organization Discrimination • IRA Exclusion Renewal? • Sex Offender Bible Teacher: News Roundup
    This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
    A “First” in Religious Organization Discrimination • IRA Exclusion Renewal? • Sex Offender Bible Teacher: News Roundup

    In a National First, a Religious Organization Is Successfully Sued for Employment Discrimination by a Same-Sex Married Individual. “In a decision being called the first of its kind nationally, a state judge has ruled that an all-girls Catholic school in Milton discriminated against a gay man when it rescinded a job offer after learning he was in a same-sex marriage. Matthew Barrett accepted a position as food services director at Fontbonne Academy in 2013, but the school withdrew the offer days later after Barrett listed his husband as an emergency contact on an employee form. . . . Barrett’s lawyer, Ben Klein of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, said the decision marks the first time a judge has rejected a religious organization’s assertion that it had a constitutional right not to hire employees because they were spouses in same-sex marriages.
    . . .
    [The judge] said Fontbonne could claim a religious exemption to the state antidiscrimination law only if it limited ‘membership, enrollment, or participation’ to members of one religion. The school, however, is open to students and employees of all faiths, except for members of its administration, theology faculty, and mission and ministry staff, he wrote” (“Milton Catholic school loses gay bias case,” The Boston Globe).

    Richard Hammar’s analysis of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling and its implications for churches was one of ChurchLawAndTax.com’s top 10 articles of the year.

    Extension for IRA Charitable Distributions. “Good news for taxpayers over the age of 70½. Congress has voted to make permanent the exclusion from income of up to $100,000 per person, per year, for Individual Retirement Account (IRA) distributions which are given directly to charities. This law will end the uncertainty which has existed for the past several years when taxpayers were trying to decide whether to direct their IRA distributions to charity. Congress generally did not get around to extending the expired tax legislation known as “extenders” until very late in the year. One year the extenders were not passed until the January of the subsequent year and were applied retroactively” (“Should You Make a Charitable Contribution from Your IRA?Forbes).

    Richard Hammar explains how to substantiate contributions from IRA accounts in this Q&A from the June 2011 issue of Church Finance Today.

    The IRS Announces Tax Filing Dates and Deadlines. “The Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting individual tax returns on Tuesday, January 19, 2016, it announced today. The announcement followed the passage on Friday of the tax extenders legislation last Friday. . . . January 19 is one day earlier than the start of tax season in 2015, and the filing deadline for 2016 will be Monday, April 18, 2016, rather than the customary April 15, due to the celebration of Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. Taxpayers in Maine and Massachusetts will have until Tuesday, April 19, due to the Patriots’ Day holiday” (“IRS Announces Start Date for Tax Season,” Accounting Today).

    See all pertinent tax deadlines in our tax calendar, available in Church Law & Tax Report.

    Church Bible Class Teacher with Sex Crimes History Arrested for Abusing Girl. “A Del City, Oklahoma, church teacher is accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a teenage girl. Police arrested Donnie Schultz, 45, Friday morning at his home. Police said Schultz used his day job as a handyman to take a teenage girl to places around the metro to have sex with her. [NewsChannel 4 was] told the inappropriate relationship began when the girl was just 14, and it lasted for nearly two years. Police said the girl, who’s now 16, told a parent teacher at her high school about the relationship, claiming she’d been brainwashed by the suspect. Police said the two met at Calvary Christian Church, where Schultz teaches a Bible class.
    . . .
    Schultz has been in trouble with the law before for sex crimes. In 1995, he was convicted of second degree rape in Cleveland County, but he didn’t have to register as a sex offender after 2013. . . . The pastor at Calvary Christian told NewsChannel 4 he was aware Schultz was a sex offender, but the pastor said he didn’t think it was relevant because he insists Schultz teaches only adults” (“’There are probably more victims out there,’ Police arrest Del City church teacher for child sex crimes,” KFOR.com).

    Sound policies are vital to protect your church from abuse and scandal. See the Church Board Guide to a Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy.

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    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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