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Church Law & Tax Report

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

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Articles

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.
Illinois

Taxation—Church Property 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.
North Carolina
Charters, Constitutions, and Bylaws; Church Business Meetings

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.