Minister’s Parole • Low-Income Church Communities • Religious Freedom Case: News Roundup
This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
Minister’s Parole • Low-Income Church Communities • Religious Freedom Case: News Roundup
Image: Harry Miller / Unsplash

Minister’s Parole Conditions Regarding Church Attendance Are Challenged. “In Manning v. Powers . . . a California federal district court granted a preliminary injunction banning the government from enforcing two parole conditions imposed on Sherman Manning, a Baptist minister who had served 25 years in prison for sexual assaults on teenage boys. One of the challenged conditions prohibited Manning from entering places where children congregate. Authorities had interpreted that to prohibit him from entering any church. In invalidating that broad prohibition, the court said in part: ‘To withstand constitutional scrutiny, a prohibition that is not neutral or generally applicable must advance “only those interests of the highest order,” and be narrowly tailored to serve those state interests. . . . That criteria is not met here. Although public safety is a compelling state interest, the court finds that a blanket restriction on Manning's churchgoing is not narrowly tailored to suit this interest’” (“Parole Condition Barring Church Attendance Is Enjoined,” Religion Clause).

This blog post offers insights for churches on sex offenders attending services.

Research Shows Effects of Communities’ Economies on Churches. “Churches are not just faith institutions; they are economic institutions, too. And church life in general seems to be falling along economic lines: Churches of all sizes proliferate the suburbs and the tonier parts of America’s urban cores, while in lower income, economically stagnant neighborhoods, churches tend to be very small, very old, and in general, not as active in their community. Sociologists, like Robert Putnam and Ram Cnann, have shown that religious participation is in its steepest decline among lower classes. Church attendance is correlated strongly to higher levels of education and income. Working class and poorer families are less likely to participate in a religious community than any other socioeconomic group. Religious faith and practice is a reflection of human beliefs, but it is also a marker of economic realities, including the gap between affluent and distressed neighborhoods. . . . Communities that are arguably in most need of the social supports churches provide are the communities where churches seem to be vanishing—and where new, upstart church activity is not happening. In 2016, a Barna Group study of 769 church start-ups found that half of them were in wealthier locations” (“Low-Income Communities Are Struggling to Support Churches,” The Atlantic).

Check out our Infographics section to learn facts and statistics about churches’ financial support, funding for church plants, and more.

Pennsylvania Court Decision Requires Amish Couple to Use Electric Pump. “In Yoder v. Sugar Grove Area Sewer Authority . . . a Pennsylvania state appellate court, in a 2-1 decision, upheld the denial of an injunction sought by an Old Order Amish couple who object to the requirement that they connect to the local sewer system using an electric pump. The dispute has wound its way through the courts for over five years. . . . Judge McCullough dissented, relying on the state's Religious Freedom Protection Act. She argued that the trial court wrongly placed the burden on the property owners, rather than the sewer authority, to show the least restrictive means of furthering the state's interest” (“Amish Couple Required to Connect Property to Sewer System with Electric Pump,” Religion Clause).

Learn more about religious freedom issues in the “Law” section of

Two out of Five Americans ‘Believe Clergy Are Honest and Have High Ethical Standards.’ “Less than half of the country—just two out of every five Americans—believe clergy are honest and have high ethical standards, a recent Gallup poll found. That level of trust has dropped steadily since 2009, down from a high of 67 percent in 1985, the pollster reported. Pastors are now seen as less trustworthy than judges (43%), day care providers (46%), police officers (56%), pharmacists (62%), medical doctors (65%), grade school teachers (66%), military officers (71%), and nurses (82%). According to religious breakdowns of the data provided to CT, self-identified Christians (776 respondents) are nearly twice as likely as non-Christians (236 respondents) to still have faith in their faith leaders. While nearly half of Christians said pastors had high ethical standards, only a quarter of non-Christians agreed. Christians also indicated stronger support of military officers, with nearly three-quarters finding them trustworthy (74%), significantly more than non-Christians (63%). Christians were also more likely to trust police officers (59% vs. 46%), auto mechanics (35% vs. 27%), and business executives (18% vs. 13%). Non-Christians, on the other hand, preferred grade school teachers (71% vs. 65% of Christians), judges (49% vs. 42%), and newspaper reporters (32% vs. 23%)” (“The 8 People Americans Trust More Than Their Local Pastor,” Christianity Today).

We're always preparing the best and fastest ways to bring you the news in the context of expert advice. For more regular updates, follow us on Twitter or on Facebook.

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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