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Legal Requirements for Church Child Care Centers

Court rules that laws do not violate center's rights.

New Mexico

• Does a state law requiring church-operated child care facilities to be licensed, and prohibiting spanking, violate a church's constitutional rights? No, said a New Mexico appeals court. A Baptist church operated a child care center pursuant to a state license for many years. The church has a policy, which it believes is mandated by the Bible, permitting teachers to spank children who misbehave. Ultimately, however, the church's pastor concluded that submitting the child care center to state licensure amounted to a subordination of the center to the secular state rather than to Jesus Christ. Accordingly, the pastor refused to renew the center's license. The state filed suit against the church, seeking a court order prohibiting the church from any further operation of the center without a license. The church responded by arguing that application of the child care licensing law to the ...

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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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  • May 1, 1992

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