Church Law & Tax Report

July/August 2005
Articles with a Member Access Only are available only to members.

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Articles

Bylaws, Constitutions, and Charters Member access only

Most courts refuse to intervene in church disputes concerning the validity of a membership meeting that was not conducted in accordance with the procedural requirements.

Recent Developments

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

Child Abuse Reporting Member access only

A Utah court ruled that a national church was not liable for the molestation of two minors by a local church leader.
Pennsylvania

Child Abuse Reporting Member access only

A Pennsylvania court ruled that a victim of child abuse could not sue ministers who knew of the abuse but failed to report it.
California

Child Abuse Reporting Member access only

A California court ruled that the "ecclesiastical privilege" prevented it from resolving a pastor's lawsuit against his denomination.

Church Business Meetings Member access only

A Missouri court ruled that a church's board of directors was not properly elected in accordance with the state nonprofit corporation law, and therefore had to be removed.

Clergy—Removal - Part 1 Member access only

An Illinois court ruled that it could resolve a pastor's claim that the church board acted improperly in dismissing him without complying with the church bylaws.

Clergy—Removal - Part 2 Member access only

A Washington state court ruled that it was barred by the first amendment guaranty of religious freedom from resolving sexual harassment and retaliation claims.

Construction Projects Member access only

A Tennessee court ruled that a church was responsible for damages to vehicles in an adjacent car lot.

Employment Practices - Part 1 Member access only

A California court ruled that the ministerial exception to employment discrimination laws did not necessarily apply to a married couple who taught marriage counseling.

Employment Practices - Part 2 Member access only

A federal court in New York ruled that a denominational agency could not be sued for the sexual harassment of a church employee by two pastors.

Employment Practices - Part 3 Member access only

A federal court in Delaware ruled that a church-operated school that fired a teacher for publicly advocating abortion rights could not be sued for violating a federal nondiscrimination law.

Freedom of Religion Member access only

A federal appeals court ruled that a New York law allowing "released time" from public schools for religious instruction did not violate the first amendment's nonestablishment of religion clause.

Immigration Member access only

A federal appeals court ruled that the Immigration and Naturalization Service improperly denied a religious organization's application.

Marriage Member access only

A New York court ruled that a state law barring same-sex couples from marrying was unconstitutional.

Officers, Directors, and Trustees - Part 1 Member access only

A Georgia court ruled that a church's entire board had properly been dismissed by the church members at a duly called special business meeting.

Officers, Directors, and Trustees - Part 2 Member access only

A federal court in Indiana ruled that the directors of a church subsidiary could be sued individually for financial losses incurred by investors.

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers - Part 1 Member access only

A Delaware court ruled that a church could be liable on the basis of negligence and emotional distress for its failure to act when a female member complained.

Taxation—Church Property - Part 1 Member access only

An Illinois court ruled that a storm drainage service charge based upon the amount of a property owner's run-off surface was a fee, not a tax.

Taxation—Church Property - Part 2 Member access only

New York's highest court ruled that four parsonages owned by a church were all exempt from property tax.

Zoning Member access only

A Kansas court ruled that a neighboring landowner waited too long to halt a church construction project that in his opinion violated setback requirements in the local zoning law.

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers - Part 2 Member access only

A Connecticut court ruled that a Catholic diocese could not be liable for "reckless or wanton misconduct" as a result of the molestation of a minor by a priest.

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers - Part 3 Member access only

A federal court in New York ruled that a charity that failed to conduct a criminal records check on a volunteer youth worker was not liable on the basis of negligent hiring.

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers - Part 4 Member access only

A federal court in New York ruled that a church was not responsible on the basis of agency for the sexual molestation of a minor by the director of its youth basketball program.

Sexual Misconduct by Clergy, Lay Employees, and Volunteers - Part 5 Member access only

A federal appeals court ruled that a national denominational agency and one of its local districts were not liable for the sexual molestation of a minor by one of their pastors.