News & Analysis as of


Religious Land Use Controversy Brewing in Laurel, Maryland: Can a Church Worship in a Coffee Shop?

Redemption Community Church (the “Church”) has filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Laurel, Maryland (the “City”), after the City issued a cease and desist order prohibiting the Church from offering religious services...more

Presbytery’s Decision After Schism Between Congregation Members Enforced

Key Takeaway: While Massachusetts courts have jurisdiction over internal church disputes involving church property, they must defer to the decision-making process of a hierarchical religious organization when a dispute is...more

Church Provides No Sanctuary: Sixth Circuit’s FDCPA Decision May Breathe New Life into TCPA Spokeo Arguments

by Dorsey & Whitney LLP on

A number of Circuit Courts of Appeal have addressed Spokeo challenges to consumer protection statutes in the 646 days (and counting) since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Spokeo, Inc. v. Robins, ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S. Ct....more

Court Rejects Church’s Appeal, Upholding $4,000 Daily Sanction

by Zapproved LLC on

Padron v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Soc’y of New York, Inc., No. D070723 (Cal. Ct. App. Nov. 9, 2017). This negligence and failure to warn case arose from an allegation of childhood sexual abuse in a religious organization....more

Religious Institutions Update: January 2018 - Lex Est Sanctio Sancta

by Holland & Knight LLP on

Timely Topics - By Shannon B. Hartsfield - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced on Jan. 18, 2018, the creation of a new division within its Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR is described...more

Church Alleges Religious Discrimination Over Baltimore County’s Conditions on Approval of Development Plan

Maryland and the Board of Appeals of Baltimore County (together, “Baltimore County”), challenging Baltimore County’s conditional approval of the Church’s development plan, which sought to expand an existing house of worship. ...more

Podcast Episode 14 - Four Cases to Watch in 2018

by Locke Lord LLP on

Locke Lord LLP’s Eminent Domain team hosts an original podcast series. In Episode 14, we discuss four cases to watch in 2018: Ganson v. City of Marathon –...more

FEMA Updates Policy on Disaster Aid for Churches

by Harris Beach PLLC on

In a September 2017 post we commented on three churches (The Harvest Family Church, Hi-Way Tabernacle and Rockport First Assembly of God) which challenged the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) policy of not...more

Commentary: Tartikov v. Pomona and RLUIPA

by Pessin Katz Law, P.A. on

Over the years, I’ve represented a number of churches and synagogues in their pursuit of zoning and development approvals to build places of worship. In my consultations with these clients, inevitably someone says something...more

Religious Institutions Update: November 2017 - Lex Est Sanctio Sancta

by Holland & Knight LLP on

Timely Topics - Serious data breaches have become routine in the United States, yet a recent survey shows that the majority of religious institutions do not have a full-time IT professional, have no system to detect a...more

Voluntary Church Members Packing in Church

by Gray Reed & McGraw on

Reverend Leatl Hope, pastor of the First Church of the Boring Seventh Day Adventist Church in Gun Barrel City has been reading about the deadly shootings in churches all over the country, and he is worried. His small...more

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Amendments Affecting Tax-Exempt Organizations

by McGuireWoods LLP on

Federal tax reform continues as House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-Texas) offered his second amendment to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts on Nov. 9, modifying recently introduced legislation discussed in...more

Proposed Tax Reform Bill Impacts Philanthropy and Tax-Exempt Organizations

On November 2, 2017, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) introduced H.R. 1, the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” (the “Bill”). At over four hundred pages, the Bill promises substantial changes to the Internal...more

No Homeless in the Historic District?

A church has filed suit against the City of Davenport, Iowa (the “City”), after the City issued it a Cease and Desist Order (the “Order”) prohibiting the service of meals to the homeless, alleging violations of RLUIPA’s...more

Court Supports Expansive View of What Constitutes Religious Use

by Farrell Fritz, P.C. on

Courts have recently expanded what constitutes religious conduct. In particular, in Matter of Sullivan v. Board of Zoning Appeals of City of Albany, 144 A.D. 3d 1480 (3d Dep’t 2016), an appellate court ruled that the use of a...more

North Carolina’s Court of Appeals Affirms that Power Purchase Agreements are Impermissible in the State

by Holland & Knight LLP on

A recent North Carolina Court of Appeals decision, State of North Carolina ex. rel. Utilities Commission, et. al. v. N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network (NC WARN), affirming an order of the North Carolina Utilities...more

RLUIPA Suit Against Colonie, NY Dismissed As Unripe

A federal court in New York has dismissed religious discrimination and related claims alleged by an evangelical Christian church (the “Church”) against the Town of Colonie, New York, its agencies and officials (the “Town”),...more

Supreme Court Ruling Could Contradict Pa. Law

by Barley Snyder on

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision could mean states now will have to allow public funds to be funneled to religious institutions. In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, the Court held that Missouri...more

Does FEMA Unconstitutionally Deny Relief to Churches? President Trump Thinks So And He May Be Right

by Jackson Walker on

Hurricane Harvey’s devastation has impacted thousands of people and businesses throughout Texas. Private nonprofits and religious organizations have been playing key roles in providing emergency relief to those who have been...more

Could Tax Reform Threaten Higher Education?

by Steptoe & Johnson PLLC on

Given declining funding from government sources and the continued pressure to minimize tuition increases, it is critical for higher education institutions to encourage private giving. The primary catalyst for private giving...more

Nine Members Again, the Supreme Court Takes On Uneasy Relationship Between Church and State

by Baker Donelson on

On June 26, 2017, the last day of its session, the Supreme Court issued what is likely to be one of its most significant rulings this year – and possibly for years to come – in the case of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia,...more

U.S. Supreme Court Forbids Exclusion of Churches from State Grant Program

by Hogan Lovells on

On June 26, 2017, in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, the U.S. Supreme Court held unconstitutional under the Free Exercise Clause Missouri’s refusal to award a playground resurfacing grant to a church. The...more

Supreme Court Confirms Retirement Plans of Church-Affiliated Organizations Can be Exempt from ERISA

by Nexsen Pruet, PLLC on

In a much-anticipated ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 5 that retirement plans maintained by church-affiliated organizations can be exempt from the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), regardless of...more

Supreme Court: Public Benefit Programs Cannot Exclude Churches Solely Because They Are Religious

by Holland & Knight LLP on

In Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, No. 15-577 (June 26, 2017), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that excluding a church from a public benefit program for which it is otherwise qualified violates the Free...more

Tax-Exempt Financing of Churches, Parochial Schools and Other Sectarian Institutions After Trinity Lutheran Church: Permitted? ...

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 opinion in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, precluding states from discriminating against churches in at least some state financing programs, raises anew the question of...more

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