Pastor, Church & Law
Status—Ordained, Commissioned, or Licensed
Key point 1-04. A number of federal and state statutes use the terms ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister. If these terms are defined by a statute, then this definition ordinarily controls even if it conflicts with the definitions adopted by a religious body. If they are not defined by statute, then the civil courts will define them based on applicable precedent.
It is sometimes important to determine whether a minister is ordained, commissioned, or licensed. To illustrate, the Internal Revenue Code exempts wages paid for services by "a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church" from income tax withholding; permits a "duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church" to apply for exemption from Social ...
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