Churches

News & Analysis as of

Ninth Circuit to Consider Effect of Hobby Lobby in Land Use Context

We previously reported on the lawsuit filed by Harbor Missionary Church against San Buenaventura, California involving the City’s denial of a conditional use permit to allow the Church to continue to operate a soup kitchen in...more

Mediation at an Impasse: Attorneys’ Fees near $700K in Jacksonville Beach Case

Late last year, a federal court in Florida issued a decision in favor of Church of Our Savior, which wished to build a place of worship on Beach Boulevard (“Property”) in Jacksonville Beach, Florida....more

Employee Could Proceed With Whistleblower Lawsuit Based On Employer’s Mistaken Belief She Had Complained

Diego v. Pilgrim United Church of Christ, 231 Cal. App. 4th 913 (2014) - Cecilia Diego, the former assistant director of Pilgrim United’s preschool, sued her former employer for retaliation in violation of public...more

Illinois District Court Holds That a Plan Maintained by a Religiously Affiliated Organization Is Not a Church Plan

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently had the opportunity to weigh in on the issue of whether a religiously affiliated employer was exempt from federal regulation of its employee...more

The High Court Hears Argument: Is Gilbert’s Sign Ordinance Content-Neutral? What Standard of Review Should Apply?

Last summer, we reported that the U.S. Supreme Court granted Good News Community Church’s (Church) petition for a writ of certiorari to review the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Reed v. Town of...more

Kennesaw, Georgia Back in the News: Suffa Dawat Center Files “Preventative” Lawsuit

In December, we reported that Kennesaw, Georgia’s City Council reversed its initial decision to deny an Islamic place of worship and education center in a retail shopping plaza.  Despite the approval, the applicant, Suffa...more

Religious Institution - January 2015

Experience over the last couple decades teaches that religious institutions face as much or perhaps more liability than secular organizations and, therefore, need to take risk management seriously. From operating their own...more

Glee Camp Not So Happy: Auburn’s Zoning Enforcement Action Alleged to Violate RLUIPA’s Equal Terms Provision

The First Presbyterian Church of Auburn (the “Church”) has hosted a musical theater day camp (“Glee Camp”) in Auburn, New York for approximately three years. In July of 2014, Auburn’s code enforcement officer issued a...more

Evangelical Church Sues Colonie, New York, Alleges Religious Discrimination, Over Delays in Land Use Approval Process

An evangelical church, Life Covenant Church a/k/a LifeChurch.tv (“LifeChurch”), is suing Colonie, New York (“Town”), the Town’s Planning Board, certain of its members, and the Town’s attorneys over allegations that the Town’s...more

Mosque Sues Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania Over Denial

The Bensalem Masjid Inc. (“Masjid”) has sued Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania (“Township”) and the Township’s Zoning Hearing Board (“Board”) for denying approval to construct a mosque. Nine months after the application was...more

St. Michael, Minnesota’s Cinemagic Theater: Riverside Church’s New Home? No, Says City Council

The City of St. Michael, Minnesota, after several months of negotiations, has denied Riverside Church’s application to modify the City’s General Business Zoning District (“GBD”). The zoning amendment would have allowed...more

Cal. App. Court Finds in Favor of “Whistleblower” Who Never Blew the Whistle

In Diego v. Pilgrim United Church of Christ, — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 2014 WL 6602601 (Cal. App. 4 Dist.), the California Court of Appeal determined that Cecilia Diego (Plaintiff) could pursue a common law public policy retaliation...more

What’s a “Similarly Situated” Comparator under RLUIPA’s Equal Terms Provision? Florida Federal Court Explains in Finding Against...

Few courts have identified what it means to be a “similarly situated” comparator under RLUIPA’s equal terms provision. Recently, in Church of Our Savior v. City of Jacksonville, (M.D. FL 2014), a federal court in Florida...more

California Public Policy Prohibits Employer Retaliation Based on Mistaken Belief That Employee Engaged in Whistleblowing Activity

In Diego v. Pilgrim United Church of Christ (November 21, 2014) --- Cal. App. 4th ---), the California Fourth District Court of Appeal considered whether California public policy precludes employers from retaliating against...more

Federal Court Enters Injunctive Order Against Bayview, Texas in RLUIPA Suit Filed by Church

We previously reported on the case Cornerstone Church by the Bay v. Town of Bayview, Texas, in which the Church and the Laguna Madre Christian Academy are suing the Town (population approx. 400) under the Religious Land Use &...more

Sale of Property for Secular Use Does Not Constitute “Religious Exercise”

The Northern District of California recently dismissed RLUIPA claims filed by the California-Nevada Annual Conference of the Methodist Church (the “Conference”) against the City of San Francisco. The case revolves around the...more

Perspectives - November 2014

In this issue: - Not-for-Profit Spotlight - Top Compliance Challenges in Church Accounting - 10 Ways to Lose Your Not-for-Profit Status - Not-For-Profit Fleet Management - Events -...more

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

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