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Can Churches Bar Service Animals?

What church leaders need to know about discrimination laws and the church.

Can Churches Bar Service Animals?
Image: Jim Craigmyle | Getty

Responding to a churchgoer who wants to bring a service or support animal to church may not be a new challenge.

One of the earliest references to service dogs is a fresco in the ancient Roman city of Herculaneum, which depicts a blind man being assisted across a busy street by a guide dog. Since this fresco dates back to the late first century A.D. in a city not far from Rome and its fledgling Christian church, it is not unreasonable to assume that the church encountered the occasional presence of a service animal and its disabled owner.

How church leaders in the first century handled the issue is unknown. It is not addressed in the New Testament. But there are several points that may be helpful to modern church leaders in responding to this issue.

Background: Discrimination is prohibited in places of public accommodation

To determine whether a church has a legal duty to accommodate individuals ...

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Posted:
  • October 27, 2021

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