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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State trial court decisions are not reviewed since they are unpublished and have no value as legal precedent.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

Income Taxes - Clergy

US Tax Court Fines Pastor $2,500 for “Frivolous” Tax Argument Member access only

This case highlights some of the most important provisions of federal tax law pertaining to ministers.
2022
Clergy - Discipline and Removal; Ministerial Exception

Priest Claimed Defamatory and False Statements Led to His Dismissal Member access only

But a court ruled the ministerial exemption barred it from resolving the priest’s claim.
June 2022
Employment Practices

In a Battle of Bylaws, Court’s Intervention with Pastor’s Firing Found Proper Member access only

Appellate court says church dispute didn't involve doctrine, meaning lower court's decision could stand.
May 2022
Church Property

Protester Could Be Banned from Church Property—but Distance Restriction Found Improper Member access only

Attempt to prohibit a disruptive person from coming within 5,000 feet went too far, appellate court says.
May 2022
Employment Practices; Ministerial Exception

Former School Counselor’s Discrimination Claims Barred by Ministerial Exception Member access only

A woman fired because of her same-sex marriage could not pursue remedies against a Catholic school under federal and state laws, court holds.
May 2022