Religious Institutions Equal Protection

News & Analysis as of

RLUIPA Defense/Rocky Mountain Sign Law Joint Blog Post: Pennsylvania Borough’s Church Directional Signs Did Not Violate the...

Late last month, a federal district court in Pennsylvania ruled that directional signs to a church, which contained images of a cross and bible, did not violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The...more

Buddhist Meditation Center Sues Mobile, AL

The Thai Meditation Association of Alabama and several individual plaintiffs (the “Center”) have filed suit against the City of Mobile, Alabama, its  Planning Commission, and City Council (“Mobile”) after the Center was...more

Religious Institutions Update: August 2016

When was the last time your organization reviewed your insurance policies? Not all policies are equal. Many religious organizations are underinsured. Most should have general liability, property, professional liability,...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

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

Yeshiva Sues New Jersey Township for Religious Discrimination

Yeshiva Gedola Na’os Yaakov, Inc. (the “Yeshiva”) has filed a federal lawsuit against the Township of Ocean, New Jersey and the Township’s Zoning Board of Adjustment following the denial of an application to develop a yeshiva...more

Religious Institutions Update: January 2016

Timely Topics - The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued on Dec. 17, 2015, a memorandum instructing its examiners not to conduct employment tax audits of churches without getting in touch with a high-ranking Treasury...more

Is a Parsonage a Primary Use? NJ District Court Ponders the Question

Christian Community Chapel Wesleyan Church, Inc. (the “Chapel”) was founded in 2000 and grew quickly to 125 members. Expecting continued growth, the Chapel purchased a 33,000 square foot building with seats for 600...more

West Virginia Church Sues Development Authority

Summit Church, founded in 1991 in Elkins, West Virginia, is suing the Randolph County Development Authority for thwarting the Church’s plans to purchase property for its religious use. The Church already owns property in...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

Mosque’s RLUIPA Claims Move Forward

Almost a year ago, we reported on The Bensalem Masjid, Inc.’s lawsuit against Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania following the Township’s denial of Masjid’s use variance application to build a 16,900-square foot mosque,...more

U.S. Supreme Court Affirms That Content-Based Sign Codes Violate The First Amendment

Now, more than ever, local municipalities should review their municipal sign laws to ensure that signs are not being regulated based on their message. This is in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling that an...more

Religious Institutions: August 2015

The decision by the United States Supreme Court on same-sex marriage has been greeted with praise and disdain by different corners of the country. The faith-based community has been especially outspoken. This is not...more

RLUIPA Round-Up

Religion Clause Blog reports that Indiana’s First Church of Cannabis is using the state’s recently enacted religious freedom law to protect its founder and two members from prosecution for possession of marijuana. The Church...more

Supreme Court Affirms Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

On June 26, 2015, in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court of the United States affirmed once and for all that the right to marry is a fundamental right and therefore, no State may deprive a same-sex couple of that right,...more

Does the Supreme Court's Marriage Decision Protect Religious Entities?

COMMENTARY: For faithful Christians, Jews and Muslims, the ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges leaves more questions than answers. In the days running up to today’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage ...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

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

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

Religious Institutions Update - July 2013

Have you ever wondered how the United States Constitution came to incorporate "free exercise of religion" in the First Amendment? James Madison wrote the initial draft of the Bill of Rights. He and other Federalists initially...more

Religious Institutions Update: February 2013

Last February, at the request of Senate Finance Committee member Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations was formed to address tax-related policy questions of import...more

Religious Institutions Update: January 2013

In 2000, Congress enacted the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. §2000cc et seq. (RLUIPA), in recognition that "new, small, or unfamiliar churches in particular, are frequently discriminated...more

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