Child Care

Church Law and Tax 1990-09-01 Recent Developments Child Care Richard R. Hammar, J.D., LL.M., CPA

Church Law and Tax 1990-09-01 Recent Developments

Child Care

The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that a state law requiring a church-operated children’s home to be licensed by the state did not violate the church’s constitutional rights. A Baptist church opened a children’s home, but did not seek a license from the state. After receiving complaints about the home, a state agency investigated and found numerous violations. The state sought a court order prohibiting the continued operation of the home, and the church responded by claiming that the state licensing law violated the constitutional guaranty of religious freedom. A trial court rejected the church’s position, and ordered the church to apply for a license. Rather than apply for a license, the church appealed the trial court’s order. The state supreme court unanimously rejected the church’s claim that the licensing requirement violated its constitutional rights. It noted that “the regulations governing child caring institutions are not used or applied to direct, limit or regulate the religious content or teachings of any child caring institution’s program. The requirement of licensure does not itself in any degree impair [the church’s] freedom to believe, express and exercise [its] religious beliefs.” Accordingly, the state licensing law did not impose an impermissible burden on the church’s constitutional rights. The court also concluded that the licensing requirement did not violate the constitutional right of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children. It observed that “there is not indication that [the church] have legal custody of the children in the home.” Darrell Dorminey Children’s Home v. Georgia Department of Human Resources, 389 S.E.2d 211 (Ga. 1990).

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