Religious Institutions

News & Analysis as of

St. Anthony, Minnesota to Pay $200,000 to Settle RLUIPA Suit Brought by Department of Justice

Earlier this year, we reported on the lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) against the City of St. Anthony Village, Minnesota (“City”) over the City’s denial of Abu Haraira Islamic Center’s (“Center”)...more

Kennesaw Reverses Course and Approves Mosque

Earlier this month, we reported that Kennesaw, Georgia’s City Council voted 4 to 1 to deny a land use application by Suffa Dawat Center (the “Center”) to establish an Islamic place of worship and education center in a retail...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

Township of Bridgewater, NJ to Pay $7.75 Million to Settle RLUIPA Suit Against Muslim Group

The Township of Bridgewater, New Jersey has agreed to pay nearly $8 million to settle a lawsuit over claims that its denial of Al Falah Center’s proposal to construct a mosque violated the Religious Land Use &...more

"Let There Be Light” Part 2 of 2 Part Series

There are numerous other examples of religious institutions which have made green energy part of their mission. Utility companies across the U.S. are embracing solar energy. Savvy investors like Warren Buffet see the...more

Religious Institutions Update: December 2014

Every year, religious institutions spend millions purchasing insurance of various types from insurance companies. Many will never make claims on the policies remotely equal to their annual investment in premiums. In these...more

High Court Affirms Theater, Church’s Entitlement to State’s “Mandatory” Property Tax Exemption

The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, recently published decisions in the Maetreum of Cybele v. McCoy and Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, Inc. v. Auburn cases. In these decisions, the Court affirmed that the exemptions...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

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

Hobby Lobby Redux

The regulations set forth two possible approaches to defining a “qualifying closely held for-profit entity” In Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014) the Supreme Court held that the requirement to...more

Portions of Property Exempt for Religious Use

A panel of the Commonwealth Court held that portions of a 45-acre tract were entitled to exemption as places of regularly stated religious worship. Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary of Earth Religion v. Medford County Board...more

Norwalk Settles Mosque Lawsuit for $2 Million

A long-running dispute between the city of Norwalk and an Islamic group appears to be settled, with the city agreeing to pay $2 million to the group and help it find an alternate location for a mosque and a meeting...more

Second Circuit Revives Chabad Group’s RLUIPA Suit

On September 19, 2014, the Second Circuit issued its decision in Chabad Lubavitch of Litchfield County, Inc. v. Borough of Litchfield (2d Cir. 2014), reversing the lower court’s entry of summary judgment in favor of the...more

Indiana Property Tax Exemptions: Church Permitted To File Letter In Lieu Of Application; Trade Association Failed To Prove Split...

Church properly used letter of notification (and not official application) to claim exemption; previously granted exemption rolled forward. The Indiana Board of Tax Review applied a 100% property tax exemption to a church...more

Appellate Court Notes

?AC35507 - State v. Wright - ?AC35289, AC36395 - Southport Congregational Church-United Church of Christ v. Hadley - The doctrine of equitable conversion did not apply when the decedent contracted to sell real...more

ERISA Litigation Review

The courts have been busy in 2014, addressing a variety of issues in the employee benefits field in decisions that impact everyone from union travelers to ESOP fiduciaries. This advisory summarizes a selection of the 2014...more

Islamic Center and City of Norwalk, Connecticut Reach Proposed Settlement in RLUIPA Suit

Al Madany Islamic Center and the Norwalk Zoning Commission have agreed to the terms of a proposed settlement stemming from the Commission’s 2012 denial of the Islamic Center’s proposal to construct a 27,000 square-foot mosque...more

.CHURCH Launching September 17

The number of premium domain names available to churches and related religious organizations is about to increase significantly. On September 17, 2014, the domain name extension .church – a new alternative to domain name...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

Lake County, Illinois “Hat Trick”* Defeats Religious Meditation House in Federal Suit

In MAUM Meditation House of Truth v. Lake County, Illinois, No. 13-cv-3794 (N.D. Ill. 2014), the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois ruled that Lake County, Illinois did not violate MAUM...more

New Jersey Bill Seeks to Expand Overtime and Minimum Wage Exemption to Private Summer Camp Employees

Currently, New Jersey overtime and minimum wage laws do not apply to summer camps (and other summer conferences and retreats) operated by non-profit or religious corporations or associations. On June 5, 2014, the Assembly...more

CT Law of the Land

AC35796 - Michos v. Planning & Zoning Commission - This decision held that the Town of Easton P&Z Commission violated its own regulations when it approved a house of worship with 80% of the parking in front of the...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

Once An Employee – Never A Volunteer

It should be obvious that employees cannot be required to perform services for their employers as “volunteers.” This is properly seen by the Department of Labor as a ruse to avoid paying wages or overtime. By contrast,...more

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