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• A federal appeals court concluded that a special act of Congress giving the Christian Science Church extended copyright protection in a 1906 edition of Mary Baker Eddy's book Science and Health violated the first amendment's nonestablishment of religion clause. In 1971, Congress enacted a special law extending copyright protection in the central and most sacred writing of Christian Science until the year 2046, in order to perpetuate the purity and integrity of the work. Without this special legislation, copyright protection would have expired no later than 1981. Such favored treatment of the central religious writing of a religious sect clearly violated the nonestablishment of religion clause: "When Congress departs from generalized copyright legislation and enacts special copyright protection for a religious entity in order to enhance its sway over the manner of religious worship, ...

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Richard R. Hammar is an attorney, CPA and author specializing in legal and tax issues for churches and clergy.

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  • January 1, 1988

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