Jump directly to the Content

Church Law & Tax Report

May/June 1997
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.


Eligibility of Lay Church Employees for the Housing Allowance Member access only

The Tax Court issues an important decision.

Are Ministers Employees or Self-Employed? Member access only

Learn about the employment status of ministers.

Recent Developments

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

Church Business Meetings Member access only

Does state law override an organization's bylaws?
Judicial Resolution of Church Disputes

Church Membership Lawsuit Member access only

Court rules that man cannot sue a church for refusing his membership.
Church Property

Church Property Dispute Member access only

Court rules that local congregation, not national church, has right to property.
South Carolina
Church Property

Disaffiliated Church's Property Reverts to Denomination Member access only

A local church may lose the right to its property when it leaves its denomination.
Defamation; Freedom of Religion

Former Candidate for Priesthood Sues for Defamation Member access only

Many courts are unwilling to resolve this type of claim.

Worship Music and Copyright Law Member access only

Are song lyrics copyrighted?

Copyshop Violates Copyright Law Member access only

Copying and selling sections of textbooks constitutes copyright infringement.
South Carolina

Counselors' Liability for Counselees' Actions Member access only

Counselors may sometimes be legally responsible for injuries caused by their counselees.
New Jersey

Teacher Sues School for Age and Sex Discrimination Member access only

In many cases, non-ministerial employees may sue churches.

The Sabbath and Employment Discrimination Member access only

Employers must make efforts to accommodate employees' religious beliefs

Woman Sues for Wrongful Dismissal Member access only

Employer discovered employee's misconduct after dismissing her.
Child Abuse

Government Officials and Religious Oaths Member access only

Officials may not coerce citizens into engaging in religious exercises.

Public Prayers at High School Graduations Member access only

Prayers may violate the First Amendment.

Defamation Claims Against Church Members Member access only

Court rules that it may resolve lawsuit.
Officers, Directors, and Trustees

Court To Determine Whether Board Members May Serve Member access only

In a few cases, a court may resolve such disputes.
Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities

Intervening Cause and Injuries on Church Property Member access only

Churches may not be liable for negligence if the injuries result from a third party's criminal activity.
Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities

Boy Scouts of America Sued for Scoutmaster's Negligence Member access only

Court rules that organization is not responsible for man's activities.
New Jersey
Personal Injuries on Church Property or During Church Activities

Charitable Immunity Law Member access only

In some states, charities are immune from lawsuits by beneficiaries.

School Custodian Dismissed for Prior Conviction Member access only

It's a good idea to perform background checks on anyone with access to minors.

Abuse Victim Sues Church for Negligence Member access only

Adult victims may be able to sue for abuse suffered as a child

Lawsuit Over Priest's Molestation of Boys Member access only

Court finds church and diocese not liable.

Church Sued for Minor's Acts of Molestation Member access only

The minor had been molested by a church employee.
Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers

Man Sues Church for Abuse Suffered as Minor Member access only

Court rules that the statute of limitations bars him from suing.

Statute of Limitations Prevents Lawsuit Member access only

Man's lawsuit over abuse suffered as minor barred.
Counseling; Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers

Woman Sues Church Over Molestation by Former Pastor Member access only

Her lawsuit was barred by the statute of limitations.

"Repression" and the Statute of Limitations Member access only

In some states, the "discovery rule" allows victims to sue for past abuse.

Church Retreat Exempt from Property Tax Member access only

Court makes an important ruling.
New Jersey

Volunteers' IRAs May Not Be Seized to Satisfy a Judgment Member access only

Not all of a volunteer's personal assets may be available to pay for damages.
North Carolina
Church Property; Zoning

Definition of "Church" for Zoning Purposes Member access only

Not all church-owned buildings qualify as a "church" under zoning law.