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The "ministerial exception" and labor laws - The Christian Post story!

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  • rlbaty50
    (Note the connection to the housing allowance issue that the FFRF is challenging.-RLBaty)
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1 9:57 AM
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      (Note the connection to the housing allowance issue that the FFRF is challenging.-RLBaty)


      The Christian Post

      Supreme Court to Hear Case on Church Authority, Hiring Rights
      Does "ministerial exception" apply to teachers at religious schools?

      By R. Leigh Coleman
      Christian Post Reporter
      Saturday, October 1, 2011


      One of the most important religious cases disputed in years, involving the separation of church and state, will soon come before the U.S. Supreme Court.

      The legal battle could change whether or not the federal government can dictate or interfere with church authority.

      Arguments in the case, Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church v. the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, will be heard Oct. 5.

      The case centers on "ministerial exception," which is a law that has been on the books for some 40 years.

      This "exception" protects churches and other religious groups from discrimination claims against them including issues on hiring and firing employees.

      The high profile legal dispute involves Cheryl Perich, a former fourth grade teacher at the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church School. Perich was fired for insubordination and disruptive conduct in 2005.

      The church congregation that same year approved her termination.

      > "Called teachers, like Perich, normally receive
      > tenure and may be dismissed only for cause,"

      according to court records.

      Forcing the church to retain Perich after she was fired would be an unconstitutional restriction on its right to choose its religious leaders, church leaders said in a statement.

      One of the most important arguments that will come before the Supreme Court in the case is whether the government should be allowed to decide which duties are "religious," and which are not.

      In 2008, the district court decided against Perich, ruling that since she had been called as a commissioned minister, her firing was subject to the ministerial exception and thus was not within the court's right to interfere.

      Court records show that in 2010, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Perich was not covered by the ministerial exception because most of her duties were secular, and overturned the decision.

      Now, a host of organizations are involved in the legalities of the case...

      Douglas Laycock, the attorney on record representing the Lutheran Church, told The Christian Post that this legal battle is unprecedented and could impact every church in the nation.

      > "Lutheran churches put a heavy weight on teachers
      > and religious education by requiring their teachers
      > take theology courses and they also get a ministerial
      > housing allowance,"

      Laycock told The Christian Post in a phone interview Friday.

      > "This case has the potential to change employment
      > relations in virtually every religious institution
      > in the nation."

      > "The big question for the Supreme Court is whether
      > the ministerial exception rule applies to a teacher
      > at a religious elementary school who teaches the
      > full secular curriculum, but also teaches daily
      > religion classes, is a commissioned minister, and
      > regularly leads students in prayer and worship,"

      Laycock said.

      The Supreme Court, which has three female justices, will have to find a common ground that

      > "involve inherently religious questions,"


      > "if the matter is a theological dispute
      > and belongs in the court system."

      The congregation eventually closed the church's school in 2009.

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