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Church Law & Tax Report

November/December 1995
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.

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Recent Developments

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

Court Will Not Resolve School Employment Dispute Member access only

Former principal had challenged her dismissal from Catholic school.

Convicted Child Molester's Conversion Claim No Excuse for Probation Violations  Member access only

Convict's religious freedoms are not violated in probation revocation, court adds.
New York

False Accusations of Child Abuse Are Subject to Legal Recourse Member access only

New York case could be subject to charges of "gross negligence" despite other immunity laws, court says.

Former Russian Orthodox Church Has Control of Its Property, Court Rules Member access only

Massachusetts courts uphold congregation's ownership of church property.

Religious Protestors Can Be Charged with Disturbing Gay Pride Mass Member access only

Many states prohibit disrupting religious services.

Tax Court Rules Methodist Minister an Employee  Member access only

Decision has significant implications for tax purposes.

Penitent Privilege Not Applicable When Religious Counselors Aren't Ordained, Court Rules Member access only

Court also limits penitent privilege to statements made in the sacrament of confession.

Religious Organizations Can Use Religious Discrimination in Employment Decisions Member access only

But only if discrimination is solely religion-based, court clarifies.

Religious Symbols Allowed on Public Property  Member access only

But property must be available to other forms of expression, court says.

Public Teachers Not Constitutional Protected from Teaching Evolution Member access only

Teacher's religious freedoms not violated because evolution not a religion, court rules.

Religious Student Group Wins Discrimination Suit Member access only

Court rules school district discriminated between groups with similar goals.

Diocese Not Responsible for Priest's Driving Member access only

Priest's accident occurred outside his scope of employment.

PA Includes Clergy Members as Mandatory Child Abuse Reporters Member access only

Exemption made for penitent privilege conversations.

Court Denies Lawsuit Against Clergy for Malpractice Member access only

Husband claimed priest's affair with his wife led to her suicide.

Courts Cannot Resolve Clergy Accusations of Wrongful Dismissal Member access only

First Amendment prohibits courts from getting involved in ecclesiastical matters.

Vacant Land Used Occasionally For Religious Purposes May Be Exempt Member access only

Court rules land was not used for any nonexempt purposes.
Charitable Contributions

Church Gift from Will Ruled Invalid Member access only

Court says gift was product of pastor's "undue influence."
Confidential and Privileged Communications; Defamation

Letter Calling for Pastor's Resignation Not Defamatory, Court Rules Member access only

Letter meets with "qualified privilege" requirements.