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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State trial court decisions are not reviewed since they are unpublished and have no value as legal precedent.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 Rejects Man’s Attempt to Claim an Invalid Marriage Member access only

What ministers who officiate weddings should know about their responsibilities ahead of a ceremony.
July 2022
Discrimination; Employment Practices; First Amendment

Appeals Court Refused to Dismiss a Former Employee’s Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Member access only

The trial court failed to conduct a “fact-sensitive and claim specific” analysis to determine if the First Amendment bars the former employee’s claims against a Roman Catholic archdiocese.
June 2022

A Church’s Insurance Did Not Provide Coverage for Its Pastor’s Sexual Abuse of a Minor Member access only

Policy exclusion of criminal and intentional acts superseded its limited coverage of sexual misconduct claims, says court.
June 2022

Landowner Denied a Zoning Variance for the Creation of a Shooting Range Near a Church Member access only

A local pastor and neighboring landowners expressed concerns over noise and safety.
June 2022
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.