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Religious and Sex Discrimination in Religious Organizations

Can a former employee sue a religious organization for discrimination?


• A Minnesota appeals court ruled a local civil rights ordinance banning discrimination against homosexuals could not be applied to a religious organization. A Catholic "religious center" in Minneapolis rented space to a number of community groups, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Weight Watchers, and Dignity (an organization composed largely of homosexual Catholics). In 1986, the local archbishop was instructed by the Vatican to determine whether or not pastoral practices in the diocese were consistent with the Vatican's "Letter to Bishops on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons." This letter prohibits church facilities from being used by organizations that oppose the Vatican's position on homosexuality. Since Dignity's beliefs were in conflict with the Vatican's position, its lease of space in the religious center was terminated. Dignity filed a complaint with the Minneapolis "department ...

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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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  • March 2, 1992

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