SCOTUS Denies Church Cases • Texas Shooting Lawsuit • SBC Annual Meeting: News Roundup
    This week’s headlines that affect churches and church leaders.
    SCOTUS Denies Church Cases • Texas Shooting Lawsuit • SBC Annual Meeting: News Roundup
    Image: JD Mason / Unsplash

    SCOTUS Will Not Review Two Church Property Cases. “[On June 11] the U.S. Supreme Court denied review in two unrelated cases involving disputes over church property after the breakaway of a congregation from its parent body. It denied certiorari in Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area v. Eden Prairie Presbyterian Church, Inc. . . . In the case, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that it was proper to apply the ‘neutral principles of law’ approach, rather than applying the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine, to decide ownership of property of a congregation which had disaffiliated from the Presbyterian Church USA. . . . The court also denied certiorari in Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina v. The Episcopal Church. . . . In the case, the 5-member South Carolina Supreme Court in 5 separate opinions resolved a property dispute that arose after a split in the Episcopal Church in South Carolina” (“Supreme Court Denies Review in Two Church Property Cases,” Religion Clause).

    This South Carolina case has appeared in a previous News Roundup and post. Property disputes consistently rank among the top reasons churches go to court each year.

    Family of Texas Church Shooting Victims Sues Federal Government. “A family that lost several relatives during a mass shooting at a Texas church says the federal government was negligent by failing to report the gunman’s criminal information to a national database. The Holcombe family filed a federal lawsuit this week in San Antonio. It notes the gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, was criminally convicted while in the Air Force but that the military failed to enter the information into a database used to conduct background checks of gun buyers. The lawsuit says the error allowed Kelley to buy the assault-style rifle he used during the November shooting in Sutherland Springs that killed more than two dozen people. The Holcombe family suffered about a third of those deaths” (“Lawsuit: Government negligent in Texas church massacre,” The Washington Post).

    Assess your church’s security with this downloadable resource.

    Southern Baptist Convention’s Annual Meeting Brings Attention to Women, Abuse. “The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) has a lot to talk about at its two-day annual meeting kicking off today [June 12] in Dallas. This year, amid the standard business of elections, entity updates, worship sets, and messages, leaders of America’s largest Protestant body have brought unprecedented attention to the women in its churches and its pastoral response to abuse. 2018 also marks the 100th anniversary of women attending the SBC annual meeting as messengers. At least two proposed resolutions up for consideration directly address the role of women in the complementarian denomination. But unofficially, the conversation is much bigger than that. Many have awaited this national Southern Baptist gathering—the first since what some have deemed the #MeToo movement’s entry into evangelicalism—as grounds to engage an issue its leaders can no longer downplay. . . . Like Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Al Mohler, who wrote last month that ‘judgment has now come to the house of the Southern Baptist Convention,’ prominent leaders have pushed each other to speak and act during this public reckoning for their movement” (“Women Are the Talk of 2018’s Southern Baptist Annual Meeting,” Christianity Today).

    Make sure your church has policies and procedures in place to help abuse victims and survivors who come forward.

    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 onTwitteror 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.


    If you found this article helpful, subscribe to for access to more articles like this one.

    Recent Posts
    Subscribe to Church, Law & Tax



    Experience a whole new way to set compensation. Eliminate the guesswork – get access to detailed compensation reports in just minutes.

    Confronting Gun Violence at Church

    Confronting Gun Violence at Church  Subscriber access only

    Help your congregation feel secure in your house of worship.
    Reducing the Risk

    Reducing the Risk Subscriber access only

    Keep your church safe from child sexual abuse.