Churches

News & Analysis as of

Church and New Jersey Township Nearing Settlement of Religious Lawsuit

We previously reported about the federal lawsuit filed by Christian Community Chapel against the Township of Hillsborough, New Jersey, in which the Township denied the Chapel’s variance requests to use a 14.3 acre property as...more

Two Adverse Decisions against Church Plans Reached at Appellate Court Level

In Depth - Since 2013, there have been more than 10 lawsuits filed against various health care systems across the country that maintain and operate defined benefit pension church plans. These suits allege that the...more

Courts Strike Down Church Plan Exemptions for Church-Affiliated Organizations

Until recently, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of Labor (DOL), and federal courts seemed to agree that a retirement plan established and maintained by a church-affiliated organization generally qualified...more

New Jersey District Court Remands RLUIPA and Equal Protection Defense to State Court

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Morris County Preservation Trust Fund Review Board, and Joseph A. Kovalcik, Jr. (“Defendants”) in New Jersey Superior Court claiming...more

West Virginia Church Prevails Against Development Authority

Late last year, Summit Church of Elkins, West Virginia, sued the Randolph County Development Authority (“RCDA”) in the Northern District of West Virginia for preventing the Church from purchasing a local movie theater for...more

All Hell Breaks Loose in Phoenix Satanic Prayer Showdown

In our post last month Satanists Score Victory in Phoenix, we reported on the controversy involving the Satanic Temple’s request to open Phoenix City Council’s meeting with prayer....more

Connecticut Soup Kitchen to Remain Open Following Settlement

The City of Norwich, Connecticut has agreed to end a three-year legal battle to settle three separate federal lawsuits allowing St. Vincent de Paul Place, Norwich, Inc., a ministry of The Polish Roman Catholic Congregation...more

Congregation unlikely to succeed on RLUIPA claims

The Northern District of Illinois recently had an opportunity to apply the Seventh Circuit’s “accepted zoning criteria” RLUIPA Equal Terms test to a plaintiff’s request for a preliminary injunction in Truth Foundation...more

Religious Institutions Update: March 2016

Timely Topics - The death of U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin Scalia will have an uncertain effect on religious institutions. Justice Scalia delivered the majority opinion in Employment Div. v. Smith, 494 U.S...more

Star Wars Church Opens in Spokane, Washington

Two brothers have opened a new kind of church in Spokane, Washington known as the Jedi Alliance. The Church gets its name from the storied Star Wars franchise. According to the brothers, Tim and Tyler Arnold, “[t]he Jedi...more

Courts Continue To Expand ERISA Church Plan Exemption

Most employers know that there is a federal law – the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA – that governs employer-sponsored employee benefit plans. There are a few notable exceptions that could apply to...more

Thoughts on Church Plan Status After Kaplan v. Saint Peter’s Healthcare System

The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit now is the first federal appellate court to decide whether a defined benefit plan sponsored by church-affiliated organization is a church plan under ERISA. The Court held that a...more

When the Tent’s A-Rockin’… Rock Below 60 Decibels

Vintage Church of Metairie, Jefferson Parish, Louisiana was never a source of neighborhood angst—that is, until the tent came. After merging with another local church in 2010, Vintage’s membership steadily rose. By 2015, the...more

Texas Court Rules Religious Institutions not Exempt From all Employment-Related Claims

The United States and Texas Constitutions each provide for the free exercise of religion and the separation of church and state. These constitutional prescriptions frequently bar the application of civil laws, including...more

Magistrate Judge Recommends Issuance of Preliminary Injunction to Hope Rising Church

Plaintiff Hope Rising Community Church is one step closer to obtaining a preliminary injunction against Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, as U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell issued a Report and Recommendation to allow the...more

Update: Nomadic Church and Delanco Township Consent Order

On November 3, we reported that My Father’s House Ministry, Inc. (Church) sued Delanco Township, New Jersey after denial of the Church’s application for a use variance . (See our November 3 post). Based on the parties...more

Nomadic Church Sues New Jersey Township Over Denial of Use Variance

A predominantly African American Church of about 25 members known as My Father’s House Ministry, Inc. (Church) is suing Delanco Township, New Jersey over allegations that the Township violated both the Religious Land Use &...more

A Lesson in Judicial Ripeness: Homeless Shelter’s Suit Dismissed

A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by New Life Evangelistic Center, Inc. against the City of St. Louis because New Life’s claims are not yet “ripe” for review. In order for a court to have jurisdiction to hear...more

What is Religious Exercise Under RLUIPA?

In last week’s, RLUIPA Round-Up we reported about the case Hale v. Federal Bureau of Prisons (D. CO 2015) in which the court found that the Church of the Creator – a white supremacist movement that advocates “total racial...more

RLUIPA Round-Up

Below are news items from the past week involving local government, religion, and land use that may be of interest to our readers. - The New York Times reports that the Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma Capitol...more

Life is Beautiful! Stevie Wonder Concert Not a Burden on Religious Exercise

A federal court in Nevada recently dismissed a church’s claim that a music festival in “Sin City” Las Vegas featuring the likes of Stevie Wonder, Duran Duran, and Twenty One Pilots burdened its religious exercise....more

Tear Down This Wall! Botched Demolition and Apartment Conditions Lead to RLUIPA Dispute

On September 24, Rock Church of Easton (Rock Church) filed an “Emergency Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and /or Preliminary Injunction” against the City of Easton, Pennsylvania (the City or Easton) and its Bureau of...more

RLUIPA Round-Up

Below are news items from the past week involving local government, religion, and land use that have caught our attention. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York has issued a Memorandum and...more

Hope Rising Church Hoping for a Preliminary Injunction

In June 2014, Plaintiff Hope Rising Community Church sought to establish a place of worship in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania. According to its complaint, Pastor Harry Hoff met with Penn Hill’s planning and code enforcement...more

Religious Institutions: September 2015

Respondeat superior (literally, "let the master answer" in Latin) is a doctrine that applies when an employer or principal has the ability and authority to direct and control the pertinent acts of the employee. Put otherwise,...more

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