Religious Institutions

News & Analysis as of

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

Religious Institutions Update - April 2014

Does a closely held for-profit corporation have a constitutionally or statutorily protected right to exercise religion under the Free Exercise Clause or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA)? The U.S. Supreme...more

Islamic finance: From the Cayman Islands to the Middle East and beyond

Benefits of using a Cayman SPV in Islamic financing - There are numerous reasons for Cayman’s popularity among Islamic investors. As a British Overseas Protectorate, Cayman is politically stable and its laws are based...more

Religious Institutions - March 2014

Under state and federal law, "whistleblowers" are a protected class and a broader category of persons than intuitively you might guess. When we imagine the quintessential whistleblower, the individual is usually someone who...more

Washington Supreme Court Holds That the WLAD Exemption for Non-Profit Religious Organizations is Unconstitutional as Applied to...

The Washington Supreme Court has significantly limited non-profit religious organizations’ immunity from employment discrimination claims brought under the Washington Law Against Discrimination (“WLAD”), RCW 49.60. In...more

Religious Institutions - February 2014

Who owns the "church?" For most, this is an odd question. As children, many of us folded our hands and repeated a rhyme: "Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see the people." Nevertheless, for well...more

Caveat Charities: Disgorging Donations as Fraudulent Transfers

The Bankruptcy Code permits a trustee to avoid transfers of property that a debtor has made within two years prior to its bankruptcy filing. In 1998, Congress added a safe-harbor provision for contributions to qualified...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

California District Court Denies “Church Plan” ERISA Exemption to Pension Plan of Church-Affiliated Non-Profit Healthcare System,...

The District Court for the Northern District of California recently held in a putative class action that the defined benefit pension plan of a church-affiliated non-profit healthcare system, Dignity Health (“Dignity”), was...more

District Court Strikes Down Rental Allowance Tax Exemption for Ministers

A federal court recently declared unconstitutional Internal Revenue Code Section 107(2), which excludes from gross income a rental allowance paid to a “minister of the gospel” as part of his or her compensation, on the...more

Religious Institutions Update - January 2014

On the heels of controversy surrounding the Internal Revenue Service's treatment of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status, the Treasury Department is accepting comments on proposed regulations that will...more

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