Churches

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Virginia Federal Court Clarifies RLUIPA Standing Requirements & Dismisses Substantial Burden Claim

In an important decision, the court in Aldon, LLC v. City of Newport News, Virginia (E.D. Va. Nov. 20, 2014), clarified the standing requirements under RLUIPA. Few courts have addressed RLUIPA’s standing requirements. The...more

Seventh Circuit: Plaintiffs Lacked Standing to Challenge Tax Exemption for Ministerial Rental Allowances

In November 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin declared unconstitutional Section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, which excludes from gross income rental allowances paid to ministers as...more

New RLUIPA Suit: Mount Zion Church of God in Christ v. City of Garden City, Kansas

Garden City, Kansas is being sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the U.S. Constitution, and state law over allegations that it has discriminated against a local church, Mount Zion...more

Freedom From Religion Foundation: 7th Circuit Reminds That Standing Is Every Plaintiff's Cross to Bear

There is something to be said for not paying your taxes. At least, that is one lesson that the plaintiffs may have learned from the Seventh Circuit’s opinion last Thursday in Freedom from Religion Foundation, Inc. v. Lew, No....more

Cramdown Hurdles: How to Play the Classification Game (Or Not)

In re New Bride Missionary Baptist Church, 509 B.R. 85 (Bankr. E.D. Mich. 2014) – After the bankruptcy court denied confirmation of a debtor’s proposed chapter 11 plan of reorganization because there was no accepting...more

“Let There Be Light” Part 1 of 2 Part Series

We live in an energy age. From our homes to our cars to the electronic devices we depend on, we have become an increasingly energy dependent society. The effects of our energy demand and consumption have become equally...more

Maine Supreme Court Upholds Conditional Rezoning: What it means for Real Estate

The Maine Supreme Court issued a decision last week that upheld the conditional rezoning of Williston-West Church in Portland. In Charles Remmel, et al. v. City of Portland, et al., the Court upheld the conditional rezoning...more

Religious Institutions: October 2014

Timely Topics - Church splits and property disputes are not new, but they have certainly grown in number in recent years. In the seminal case on church property disputes, Watson v. Jones, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 679, 20 L....more

Religious Institutions: August 2014

If the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had a moratorium on enforcing §501(c)(3) electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations, the IRS states that it has been lifted incident to the settlement and...more

Politics and the Pulpit—Political Activity by Nevada Religious Institutions

Are you part of a church or religious organization in Nevada? If so, the subject of how ?far, or even whether the church can become involved in political activity may have crossed your ?mind. As we head into the Fall 2014...more

Benesch Perspectives - July 2014 Newsletter

In this issue: - Not-for-Profit Spotlight - Giving to Religion Trending Downward for a Decade - What You Can Learn from Giving 2014 - Is the Front Door Closing on the Parsonage...more

Tax Law Blog: New Simplified Application Form for Small Nonprofits

The IRS is releasing a new Form 1023-EZ, a simpler form of the regular Form 1023 used to apply for tax-exempt status as a 501(c)(3) organization. The form is available to small organizations, specifically those with less than...more

Religious Institutions Update - Lex Est Sanctio Sancta

"Church plans" are pension plans (including defined benefit or defined contribution plans) exempt (without an irrevocable election) from many of the legal requirements of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA)...more

NJ Federal Court Rules Pension Plan Established By Church-Controlled Hospital Not an ERISA-Exempt Church Plan

On March 31, 2014 the U.S. District Court in New Jersey held that a defined benefit pension plan established by St. Peter’s Healthcare System was not a church plan exempt under ERISA despite the fact that St. Peter’s is...more

ERISA: Court Disregards Three Decades of IRS Letter Rulings – “Church Plan” Exemption Applies Only if Plan Established by “Church”

You already know that a “church plan” is exempt from ERISA, unless the Plan specifically elects to be governed by ERISA under Internal Revenue Code Section 410(d). But what does it take to become a “church plan”?...more

UK Supreme Court Confirms Scientology Is a Religion

With implications for employers, Court’s decision reinforces that non-mainstream religions also fall within the scope of the Equality Act. On December 11, in R (on the application of Hodkin and another) v Registrar...more

CFTC Provides Clarification for SD and MSP Employees Acting in Clerical or Ministerial Capacities

The Commodity Exchange Act and Commodity Futures Trading Commission regulations make it unlawful for a swap dealer (SD) or major swap participant (MSP) to permit a person subject to a statutory disqualification to effect or...more

Charitable But Bankrupt

Over the last few years, bankruptcy has reared its head in venues one never thought possible. From churches to education and health organizations and, most recently to local government, in the form of Detroit’s filing, one...more

Chancel Repair Liability

Introduction - The idea that by owning land you have a liability for the costs of the repair of part of the local church roof is strange, but that is what chancel repair liability is. It has been described as...more

In This Church Versus State Battle, The State Prevailed

Borrowing a bon mot from the riding arena, there are two kinds of California corporate lawyers, those who have had a filing rejected by the Secretary of State’s office and those that will. As almost every corporate lawyer in...more

Multiple Class Action Complaints Challenge Church Plan Status of Hospital Pension Plans

Recent complaints challenging the “church plan” status of certain pension plans maintained by church-sponsored hospital systems may signal the beginning of a new wave of lawsuits challenging underfunded church pension plans. ...more

A Virginia Mechanic's Lien Refresher, Courtesy of Jack Bays

In February 2013 the Supreme Court of Virginia handed down its decision in Jack Bays, a mechanic’s lien lawsuit involving the landowner, several lenders, the general contractor and no fewer than eleven subcontractors....more

Should the Court be Allowed to Disclose a Youth Pastor’s History of Sexual Abuse?

Well, that depends on who is answering the question. Only if the New Jersey legislature amends N.J.S.A. 9:6-8.10a. When a man who had been found to have abused and neglected his two children applied for a job as a youth...more

Religious Institutions Update: January 2013

In 2000, Congress enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000cc et seq. (RLUIPA), in recognition that "new, small, or unfamiliar churches in particular, are frequently discriminated...more

Considerations For Church Cell Tower Leases

Churches are good candidates for cell towers and antennas because cell companies have to add a lot more cell towers and antennas due to the increased demand caused by the proliferation of Droids, iPhones, iPads, etc....more

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