Articles and information on legal and ethical best practices at the intersection of faith and law; church and state; religion and politics
useful information that will help your organization navigate to success
The Affordable Care Act, current finance and tax issues, HR and employment law updates, steward leadership, and business governance all have critical impact on nonprofit organizations. Speakers in these areas will offer key strategies to help organizations, their staffs, and boards take positive action.
Ministries today are increasingly attacked. They are more vulnerable now than ever. Storms of shifting politics and hidden reefs of legal issues can rip the hull of your operation. Your ministry or non-profit could run aground if you’re not prepared. As with the Italian cruise ship on its side earlier this year, an unforeseen disaster can compromise your ministry’s safety and your legal rights with lasting consequences. Even worse, you might never see it coming until it’s too late. How much better to acknowledge that the waters for ministry are trickier and potentially more dangerous than in the past? This seminar conducted on October 25, 2012 helped ministries prepare for avoiding the most crippling scenarios they’re likely to face.
Preventing child abuse, particularly child sexual abuse, should be a top concern for churches and ministries, given the tragic effects on children and the ethical and moral responsibility of an organization that works with children to care for those children. The most important reason to address these issues is that abuse can wreck children’s lives and cause effects going on into adulthood. Children, spouses, and families of victims also suffer. In addition, the impact of the child sexual abuse scandal on Catholic and other churches shows that an organization’s life can be nasty, brutish and short when it is hit by major litigation.
This legal memorandum provides guidance regarding whether, when, and how severance pay may be provided to church employees who are terminated from church employment. This memorandum is written partly in response to concerns among some church leaders that severance pay may be contrary to IRS prohibitions. Overall, however, severance pay may be lawful and appropriate under certain circumstances, provided that applicable safeguards are satisfied. A church’s responsible governing body should carefully evaluate the propriety and amount of severance pay according to several factors as explained below.
Are nonprofits allowed to participate in political activities? What about religious and other nonprofit leaders who feel compelled to speak up about economic and moral issues raised in election campaigns?
Since the mid-1950s, religious, educational, and charitable organizations have been prohibited from “directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” Nonprofits are allowed to engage in a very limited amount of legislative lobbying, and their workers may express their own personal views. The election prohibition, however, is absolute. So how can responsible nonprofits act appropriately in compliance with applicable rules? The following questions and answers address these and related questions regarding prohibited political campaign activity.
A claim of negligence against a church or ministry can have very serious consequences. There are many possible types of legal claims: torts, breach of contract, employment claims, intellectual property and so forth. Because of the potential high value of the claims, and because it is a common type of lawsuit that can take many forms, this post reviews the tort of negligence resulting in a personal injury, with the church or ministry as a defendant. While individual defendants are usually named, some sort of shared liability with the organization is likely because it has greater financial resources.