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Church Law & Tax Report

March/April 1995
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.


Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches, with Richard R. Hammar

Church Not Responsible for Injuries Sustained by "Beneficiary" Member access only

New Jersey "charitable immunity" law cited in case.

Clergy Removal and Court Involvement Member access only

Courts can resolve clergy dismissal cases if consideration of ecclesiastical matters are not involved.

Penitent Privilege and Identity Disclosure Member access only

Some states allow clergy to keep confessor identities a secret.

Waiving the Clergy-Penitent Privilege Member access only

Few states allow clergy to waive penitent privilege without counselee consent.

Denominational Constitutions and Legal Liability Member access only

Court rules denomination rules are for ecclesiastical control, not legal liability.

Religious Conventions and Copyright Infringement Member access only

Religious groups may be liable for exhibitors' copyright infringement.

Public Schools, Churches, and Rental Discrimination Member access only

Court rules public school cannot charge higher rental fees to church groups than other community groups.

Resolving Disputes Between Clergy and Denominations Member access only

Civil courts cannot resolve disputes involving ecclesiastical issues.

Liability for Obviously Dangerous Conditions Member access only

Court rules church not responsible for injuries sustained on a rain-dampened ramp.

Liability for Workers with Criminal Records Member access only

Churches are only liable if criminal record correlates to the injuries a worker may cause, court rules.

Dismissal of Church Members Member access only

Court says it can't get involved in dispute involving religious group's ousted members.

The Protection of Charitable Immunity Member access only

Some states will not allow charities to be sued because of negligence.

Background Investigations of Prospective Workers Member access only

Churches may be liable for problems arising from employees whose backgrounds have not been appropriately checked.

Child Abuse and Retracted Stories Member access only

A retracted accusation of abuse not always indicative of accused's innocence, court rules.

Zoning Laws and Homeless Shelters Member access only

Zoning laws may prevent churches from having homeless shelters on their property.
Church Property; Contracts

The Hidden Threat of Reverter Clauses Member access only

Churches may lose property if they accidently trigger a reverter clause.