Religious Institutions

News & Analysis as of

Ninth Circuit Rejects Hawaii Cannabis Ministry’s RFRA Challenge

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently upheld the convictions of two ministers of the Hawaii Cannabis Ministry who admitted using and distributing large quantities of cannabis in accordance with their...more

Why Should Hospitals with “Church Plans” Be Concerned Now? - Hospital Industry Viewpoint

Religiously affiliated hospitals and health systems have recently come under attack by private litigants for exercising the right to remain exempt from ERISA requirements. Such hospitals and health systems should assess their...more

Perspectives - June 2016

In April 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) released the final version of the fiduciary rule. The final rule was six years in the making and impacts retirement plans, including 401(k) plans, and the employer who offer...more

2016 Florida Legislative Post-Session Report

Carlton Fields’s Government Law and Consulting Practice Group released its 2016 Florida Legislative Post-Session Report detailing significant bills that passed during the 2016 Regular Session of the Florida...more

DOJ Investigating Possible RLUIPA Violation in Toms River, New Jersey

Earlier this year, we reported on the lawsuit filed by Chabad Jewish Center of Toms River, Inc. against the Township of Toms River, New Jersey.  The Center challenges the Township’s decision that it must obtain a variance to...more

Indiana Church Files Religious Discrimination Suit Over Nearby Dairy Farm Approval

For the past 30 years, Harvest Christian Camp has provided a summer camp for thousands of Christian children on a 36 acre site in Henry County, Indiana, in accordance with its religious beliefs to “help[] children and teens...more

Scottsdale, Arizona Bars Satanic Temple Prayer

The Satanic Temple has had a busy year in Arizona.  Earlier this year, we reported that the Phoenix City Council abolished its 65-year practice of beginning council meetings with prayer in favor of a moment of silence,...more

Labor Board Will Decide Organizing Rights of Non-Teaching Employees at Religious Colleges, Universities

The National Labor Relations Board is set to decide if the same test used to determine whether teaching employees of a religious school are subject to the Board’s jurisdiction should be extended to non-teaching employees....more

A flood of amici support the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge

Recently, we reported that Bernards Township, New Jersey (the “Township”) had invited the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge (“ISBR”) to resubmit an application to develop a mosque. Previously, the Township denied the Islamic...more

Did the Sixth Circuit Unintentionally Adopt an RLUIPA Equal Terms Test?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recently issued its decision in Tree of Life Christian Schools v. City of Upper Arlington, in which it reversed the lower court’s granting of summary judgment in favor of the...more

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

Muslim Group Rejects New Jersey Township’s Offer to Resubmit Mosque Application

Bernards Township, New Jersey has invited the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge to resubmit an application to develop a mosque. Earlier this year, the Township denied the Islamic Society’s application for a 4,250 square foot...more

Ninth Circuit Agrees That Prohibition on the Possession and Distribution of Cannabis Does Not Violate RFRA

Founder and president of Oklevueha Native American Church of Hawaii, Inc. (“Oklevueha”), Michael Rex “Raging Bear” Mooney, filed suit in 2009 against various federal officials in the Federal District Court of Hawaii.  Mooney...more

Religious Institutions Update: May 2016

Timely Topics - Has your nonprofit received a donation for a restricted purpose that has become impractical, impossible to achieve, wasteful or even unlawful? A donor may restrict a contribution to a charity for a...more

Chabad Files RLUIPA Suit Against Toms River, New Jersey

Rabbi Moshe Gourarie and the Chabad Jewish Center of Toms River Inc. (the “Center”) have sued the Township of Toms River, New Jersey, and the Township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment (“ZBA”) in the Federal District Court of New...more

Legalized Discrimination Or Safety From Government Interference? What Mississippi Employers Need To Know About New Religious...

On April 5, 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed into law HB 1523, also known as the “Protecting Freedom of Conscience From Government Discrimination Act.” While proponents of the new law state that it simply...more

Recovery House’s RLUIPA Challenge Fails

The District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has rejected RLUIPA and other claims asserted by a religious group in Affordable Recovery Housing v. City of Blue Island (N.D. Ill. 2016). The case stems from...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

Ninth Circuit Rules in Favor of Soup Kitchen in Dispute with San Buenaventura, CA

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has reversed a district court’s decision that Harbor Missionary Church’s (Church) religious exercise was not substantially burdened by the City of San Buenaventura’s denial of a...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

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