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Legal Developments

Richard Hammar’s Review of Cases Affecting Ministers and Churches

This section contains a summary of court decisions, administrative rulings, and legislative developments that directly affect churches and clergy. Court decisions reflect decisions of all state appellate courts and supreme courts, and all federal courts.

State trial court decisions are not reviewed since they are unpublished and have no value as legal precedent. All of these developments are important, but some are of vital significance. Therefore, each development should be reviewed carefully.

Note that there are many “key points” associated with Legal Developments. These are intended to help you more quickly comprehend the importance of each development. To help you go deeper on a specific topic or issue, the numbered key points in Legal Developments align with the numbered key points in Pastor, Church & Law, Fifth Edition (ChurchLawAndTaxStore.com) and the Legal Library available on ChurchLawAndTax.com.

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Newest DevelopmentsView All


Court Affirms South Dakota Priest's Embezzlement Conviction Member access only

Stolen loot used to buy Mont Blanc pens, a grand piano, and jewelry, among other lavish items.
March 2023
Church Property

City Ordered to Pay Fees, Damages for RLUIPA Violation Member access only

St. Pete Beach sought to restrict the beachfront church from soliciting donations from the public in exchange for the use of its parking lot.
February 2023
Discrimination; Schools

Court: ADA Case Brought Against Religious School Allowed to Proceed Member access only

A federal court refused to dismiss a mother’s lawsuit, stating the school’s denominational ties—and possible exemption from the federal law—must be proven.
February 2023
Income Taxes - Clergy; Payroll Tax Reporting

Minister Fined After Failing to Pay $25K in Income Tax Member access only

US Tax Court tosses minister’s ‘frivolous’ argument for underreporting tens of thousands of dollars in W-2 income, levies fine under section 6673 of Tax Code.
January 2023
Taxation - Church Property

Church Property Held in New Jersey Bishop’s Name Still Tax-Exempt Member access only

Church’s constitution and bylaws played a key role in court’s decision.
January 2023