News & Analysis as of

Religious Institutions

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

Supreme Court Upholds “Church Plan” Sponsorship by “Principal-Purpose Organizations”

by Cohen & Grigsby, P.C on

On Monday, June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered a much-awaited decision in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton in favor of church plan sponsors that are “principal-purpose organizations.” This ruling is...more

Federal Agencies Announce Plan B for the Contraceptives Mandate

The triumvirate of federal agencies (HHS, DOL, IRS) responsible for enforcing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the ACA, often called Obamacare) released final interim rules significantly expanding exceptions...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

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

Yonkers Wins Below: Appeal Pending

The Islamic Community Center for Mid Westchester (“ICCMW”) has appealed the decision of the Southern District of New York that held ICCMW’s claims were not yet ripe for review and ICCMW did not have the right to supplement...more

Department of Justice and Bensalem Township, PA Settle Lawsuit Over Mosque Denial

The United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) has reached an agreement with Bensalem Township, Pennsylvania (“Township”), resolving allegations that the Township violated each of RLUIPA’s provisions when it denied a use...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

Eruv Dispute Prompts Claims of Religious Discrimination Against New Jersey Township

Last month, Bergen Rockland Eruv Association, Inc. (BREA) sued the Township of Mahwah, New Jersey regarding a dispute over the expansion of an eruv. According to the complaint, “[a]n eruv, under Jewish law, is a largely...more

Soup, Salvation and Overtime: Sixth Circuit Takes Up Televangelist’s FLSA Appeal

Are you entitled to FLSA coverage if you are doing the Lord’s work? In March 2017, a federal district court in Ohio answered “yes” and awarded almost $400,000 to unpaid employees/volunteers of a church restaurant....more

High Court Unanimously Upholds ERISA Exemption For Church-Affiliated Pension Plans

by Dickinson Wright on

Advocate Health Care Network et al v. Stapleton et al, 581 U.S. __ (2017) - In one of the recent opinions rendered by the United States Supreme Court, it was found that pension plans maintained by religiously affiliated...more

Case Report: Public Finance Implications of Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer

In Public Finance, questions on separation of church and state usually arise in the context of a conduit financing by a state or local governmental entity which benefits a religious organization. The religious organization...more

Supreme Court Clarifies Limits to ERISA Church Plan Exemption

by Miles & Stockbridge P.C. on

On March 27, 2017, the then 8 Supreme Court Justices heard oral arguments for three consolidated cases regarding the outer bounds of the “church plan” exception under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974...more

Requiring Repair, Rather than Demolition, For Church’s Violations of Municipality’s Property Maintenance Code May Impose A...

An Illinois appellate court reversed a lower court’s dismissal of RLUIPA claims asserted by the First United Methodist Church of West Dundee (the “Church”) against the Village of West Dundee, Illinois (the “Village”), finding...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

Debt Dialogue: June 2017 - Supreme Court Holds Church-Affiliated Organizations Exempt From ERISA: A Prescription for the Ailing...

On June 5, 2017, the United States Supreme Court rendered an important decision that will impact restructurings — particularly health care provider restructurings — going forward. The Supreme Court reversed the Third, Seventh...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

Supreme Court Decides Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, No. 15-577

by Faegre Baker Daniels on

On June 26, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, holding that, when the government offers a public benefit to organizations that meet specified criteria, the Free Exercise...more

New Substantial Burden Framework in the Sixth Circuit; Court Upholds RLUIPA Verdict in Favor of Michigan Township

In an important decision for municipalities across the Country, the Sixth Circuit upheld a district court decision that found Genoa Charter Township (Township) did not violate federal law in denying a church’s application for...more

Supreme Court Clarifies “Church Plan” Definition for ERISA Exemption Purposes

A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton implicates the benefit plans maintained by nonprofit entities affiliated with a church or religious organization, including many hospitals and...more

Church Wins Free Speech Claim Over Zoning Ordinance and $1,354,595 in Damages

Last year, we reported about a case in which the city of St. Michael, Minnesota utilized RLUIPA’s “safe harbor” provision to avoid liability under the act’s substantial burden and equal terms provisions. While the federal...more

Supreme Court Decision Offers Some Relief to Church-Affiliated Nonprofits Using ERISA Church Plan Exemption

by FordHarrison on

Executive Summary: The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Advocate Health Care Network v. Stapleton serves as a reminder to church-affiliated hospitals and other organizations using the ERISA church plan exemption to review the...more

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