Religious Institutions First Amendment

News & Analysis as of

Hundreds Erupt in Elation After Sterling Heights Mosque Denial

In the RLUIPA Round-Up post, we noted that the City of Sterling Heights, Michigan, is facing a federal lawsuit following its denial of the American Islamic Community Center’s (Center) zoning application to build a 20,500...more

Minister or Not? Gay Bias Case Turns on Employee’s Role

Seyfarth Synopsis: A federal judge has allowed a discrimination lawsuit to proceed against the Archdiocese of Chicago. The plaintiff alleges that his engagement to another man resulted in his termination. The church sought...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

Massachusetts Church Alleges Solar Panel Denial Violates Religious Freedom

A Massachusetts Superior Court is soon to consider the interplay of three important planning principles – historic preservation, sustainable development, and freedom of religion. A Unitarian Universalist church is suing the...more

Sikh Temple files suit after Oyster Bay, NY ordered it to stop work and then required SEQRA review

Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center, Inc. (the “Temple”), on June 29, 2016 in the Eastern District of New York, sued the Town of Oyster Bay, New York, the Town Board, and several Town Officials (together, the “Defendants”) after...more

Michigan Township Prevails on Federal Religious Discrimination Claims

A federal court in Michigan has ruled that Genoa Charter Township did not violate federal law in denying a church’s application for a special use permit to operate a religious school. Livingston Christian Schools (LSC)...more

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

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

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

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

Rhode Island Town Sued for Religious Discrimination

The King’s Tabernacle, a Rhode Island Church with a predominantly African American congregation of 20 members, has sued the Town of Johnston, Rhode Island over the Town’s denial of its special use permit for religious...more

Can a Massachusetts Religious School Refuse to Employ a Worker in a Same-Sex Marriage?

In Barrett v. Fontbonne Academy, the Massachusetts Superior Court curtailed various statutory and constitutional defenses available to an employer affiliated with a religious institution that faces discrimination claims under...more

Magistrate Judge Recommends Issuance of Preliminary Injunction to Hope Rising Church

Plaintiff Hope Rising Community Church is one step closer to obtaining a preliminary injunction against Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, as U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert C. Mitchell issued a Report and Recommendation to allow the...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

What is Religious Exercise Under RLUIPA?

In last week’s, RLUIPA Round-Up we reported about the case Hale v. Federal Bureau of Prisons (D. CO 2015) in which the court found that the Church of the Creator – a white supremacist movement that advocates “total racial...more

Religious Institutions: September 2015

Respondeat superior (literally, "let the master answer" in Latin) is a doctrine that applies when an employer or principal has the ability and authority to direct and control the pertinent acts of the employee. Put otherwise,...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

The NLRB Goes Back to Church (Schools), Gets Entangled

In our June 2015 blog post, “NLRB Moves to Assert Jurisdiction Over Religious Educational Institutions,” we reported that Regional Directors of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were beginning to exercise jurisdiction...more

Illinois Federal Court Dismisses Some, But Not All, RLUIPA Claims

A federal court in Illinois, in Church of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ v. City of Markham, Illinois (N.D. Ill. 2015), dismissed some of the Church’s religious land use claims while allowing others to proceed. The case is...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

Religious Institutions Update: May 2015

Religious institutions commonly keep ministry supporters and members abreast of developments through newsletters, correspondence and other communications. Sometimes, the developments reported are embarrassing to those...more

Religious Freedom and the Affordable Care Act

The fascinating interplay that weaves between the First and Fifth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) continues to march...more

Spiritual Director Doesn't Have a Prayer When it Comes to Her Discrimination and Termination Claims

Religious employers can rejoice once again, as yet another court upholds the ministerial exception and dismisses an employee's discrimination and termination claims....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

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