Jump directly to the Content

Church Law & Tax Report

July/August 2002
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.

Become a Member

Keep your church safe, legal, and financially sound.

When you become a member you get instant online access to help your church:

  • Reduce potential legal liability
  • Manage finances and risks
  • Comply with IRS requirements

Feature Article

Church Vans Member access only


Child Abuse Reporting Member access only

A Wisconsin court ruled that a school principal who disclosed to an alleged child abuser the identities of the school employees who reported the abuse could be prosecuted.

Privileged and Confidential Communications Member access only

The South Dakota Supreme Court ruled that statements made by a pastor to a denominational official concerning his wife's sudden death in a bathtub were not protected by the clergy-penitent privilege.

Recent Developments

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

Arbitration Member access only

A New York court ruled that an arbitration clause in an employment contract between a synagogue and a rabbi was legally enforceable.

Charitable Contributions Member access only

A New York court ruled that a donor's widow had the legal authority to enforce the terms of a charitable contribution her husband had made to a charity.
Child Abuse; Child Abuse Reporting

Child Abuse Reporting Member access only

The Missouri Supreme Court refused to rule that the first amendment guaranty of religious freedom prohibits states from applying child abuse reporting laws to ministers who learn of incidents of child abuse.

Church Property - Part 1 Member access only

A Georgia court ruled that a neighboring landowner had a legal right to build a road across a church's property.

Church Property - Part 2 Member access only

A Wisconsin court ruled that a city did not violate the constitutional rights of a church by requiring it to install a sprinkler system in its 35-year-old sanctuary.

Church Property - Part 3 Member access only

A Tennessee court ruled that a local church retained control of its property following its withdrawal from a parent denomination, based on the wording of the deed to the property.

Defamation Member access only

A Mississippi court ruled that a church was not guilty of defamation as a result of information shared during a disciplinary hearing that was conducted pursuant to the church's bylaws.

Employment Practices - Part 1 Member access only

Maryland's highest court ruled that an employment discrimination law that did not permit religious organizations to discriminate on the basis of religion would violate the first amendment's guaranty of religious freedom.

Church Property - Part 4 Member access only

A federal court in Tennessee concluded that a church was not engaged in commerce for purposes of a federal arson statute.

Employment Practices - Part 2 Member access only

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that it was from resolving a sex discrimination lawsuit brought by a former minister to the deaf.

Freedom of Religion - Part 1 Member access only

A federal court in Texas ruled that a hospital cook could sue his employer for "religious discrimination" as a result of the employer's hostile treatment.

Freedom of Religion - Part 2 Member access only

A federal appeals court ruled that a city's refusal to allow a church to use the town hall for weekly Bible studies violated the first amendment guaranty of free speech.

Officers, Directors, and Trustees Member access only

A Minnesota court ruled that a church officer violated his fiduciary duties to his church as a result of his secret efforts to remove the pastor and have the church property transferred to a new church.

Personal Injuries on Church Property Member access only

The Kansas Supreme Court ruled that a school was not legally responsible for injuries suffered by a child who was struck by a car when he ran off of school property onto a street.

Personal Injuries on Church Property and During Church Activities Member access only

An Ohio court ruled that a woman could sue a church for injuries she sustained when she "stepped into the dark" and fell down a stairway.

Privacy Member access only

A California court addressed the question of liability for the unauthorized publication of a person's photo.

Wills, Trusts, and Estates Member access only

A California court rejected an attempt by heirs to revoke a $1.5 million gift their 85-year-old mother made to her church.

Zoning Member access only

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that a city had improperly denied a church's request for a special use permit to use property for church purposes.