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DOJ: Feds Can Tell Church Who Its Ministers Will Be
Townhall ^ | 10/12/2011 | Terry Jeffrey

Posted on 10/12/2011 11:27:49 AM PDT by Dr. White

In yet another stunning attack on freedom of religion, President Barack Obama's Justice Department asked the Supreme Court last week to give the federal government the power to tell a church who its ministers will be.

The case involves a former teacher at Lutheran school, who along with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is pushing a claim that a Lutheran congregation should be forced to restore her ministry position.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State and American Atheists, Inc. have filed briefs siding with the Obama administration against the church.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and the American Center for Law and Justice are among those who have filed briefs supporting the Lutherans.

In 1999, the Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in Redford, Mich., hired Cheryl Perich to be a lay teacher on a one-year contract in its kindergarten.

The next year, Perich became a "called" teacher at the school after she became a commissioned minister in the church.

"To receive a call, a candidate must be selected by a local church congregation," said a brief the church submitted to the Supreme Court that was prepared by lawyers at the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty and Douglas Laycock of the University of Virginia Law School.

"At Hosanna-Tabor, the school board typically presents a choice of candidates to the congregation, and after prayerfully considering the candidates, the congregation extends a call via congregational vote," the brief said. "Once the call has been accepted, the candidate is installed in office via the public rite of 'commissioning,' and is recognized as a 'Minister of Religion, Commissioned' -- also known as a 'commissioned minister.'"

As a minister in the school, Perich taught religious classes, led students in prayer and performed other religious tasks. She was also expected to integrate the teaching of the Lutheran faith into all so-called "secular" classes, including math, science, social studies and art.

In 2004, Perich was diagnosed with narcolepsy and was unable to teach the fall semester. In January 2005, when she could not return, the school hired another teacher to take her place during the spring.

Later that month, according to a brief filed by the Justice Department's Office of the Solicitor General, Perich informed the school's principal, Stacey Hoeft, via email that she would be able to return to work the following month.

The principal informed her they had already hired a replacement teacher for the rest of the year.

The congregation then voted to ask Perich for a "peaceful release from her call."

"'Peaceful release' is a religious act by which a congregation and a called minister agree to release one another from the mutual obligations of the call," says the brief submitted by the church. "Peaceful releases are common, and they leave the called minister in good standing and eligible for a new call."

Perich declined to be peacefully released. In late February, she showed up at the school and met with Principal Hoeft.

"Later that day, Perich told Hoeft that if she were not reinstated, she would sue the church," said the church's brief. "Hoeft immediately asked Perich if that were what she really meant, because a lawsuit would clearly violate the church's conflict resolution policy applicable to called employees. Perich repeated the threat."

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod explained this teaching in its own brief: "St. Paul teaches in his first letter to the Corinthians that Christians should generally resolve their disputes internally without going to the secular courts for relief." For this reason, the church has developed procedures for settling internal disputes.

A few weeks after the meeting between Perich and Hoeft, the Hosanna-Tabor congregation voted to "rescind Perich's call" because she had threatened to sue the church contrary to the church's teaching.

"The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission filed a complaint against the church under the Americans With Disabilities Act, alleging a single count of retaliation," says the church's brief. "Perich intervened, alleging the same retaliation claim and adding a retaliation claim under state law. Neither complaint alleges disability discrimination. Both complaints request an order reinstating Perich to her former position as a commissioned minister, together with back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and injunctive relief ordering new 'policies, practices, and programs' at the church."

The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod told the court in its brief that its views on the ministry and the settlement of disputes may not be "widely shared" or "widely understood." "But," the church said, "they have been the views of orthodox Lutherans for centuries."

Acting Deputy Solicitor General Leondra Kruger told the court, during oral arguments, that the federal government should be able to trump the church on these decisions.

"Their submission is that the hiring and firing decisions with respect to parochial school teachers and with respect to priests is categorically off limits," said Kruger. "And we think that that is a rule that is insufficiently attentive to the relative public and private interests at stake, interests that this court has repeatedly recognized are important in determining freedom of association claims."

Kruger contended this did not mean the government could order the Catholic Church to ordain female priests. But, even then, according to her argument, it would be a matter of the government weighing "the relative public and private interests at stake."

What is at stake is the First Amendment and the religious freedom of all Americans.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Front Page News
KEYWORDS: atheist; atheists; catholic; catholics; christian; christianpersecution; churchstate; democrats; doj; dojisajoke; eeoc; firstamendment; freedomofreligion; govtabuse; holder; jeffrey; lcms; liberalfascism; liberalhypocrisy; liberals; lping; lutheran; lutheranism; missourisynod; obama; priest; priests; religiousfreedom; religiousliberty; religiouspersecution; romancatholic; romancatholicism; romancatholics; supremecourt; terryjeffrey; tyranny; waronliberty
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1 posted on 10/12/2011 11:27:56 AM PDT by Dr. White
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To: Dr. White

Hey, just like the Chinese!


2 posted on 10/12/2011 11:30:07 AM PDT by battlecry
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To: Dr. White

Well the DOJ can go to hell!

The USSC will never uphold this position!


3 posted on 10/12/2011 11:31:49 AM PDT by G Larry (I dream of a day when a man is judged by the content of his character)
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To: Dr. White

Remind anyone of the Archbishop of Canterbury?


4 posted on 10/12/2011 11:32:28 AM PDT by Graewoulf ( obama"care" violates the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust Law, AND is illegal by the U.S. Constitution.)
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To: Dr. White

I think I’m just about ready to move to Russia.


5 posted on 10/12/2011 11:34:11 AM PDT by chris37 (Heartless.)
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To: Dr. White

Can they appoint rabbis and imams too?


6 posted on 10/12/2011 11:34:52 AM PDT by onedoug (lf)
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To: onedoug

A “separation of church and state” group wants the government running churches?


7 posted on 10/12/2011 11:37:36 AM PDT by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: Dr. White

I was raised in a mill town in the deep South. For decades it was a Company town and even the housing was owned by the Company until after WWII. Company store, etc.

Company appointed ministers for the churches were commonplace, this is even worse.


8 posted on 10/12/2011 11:38:00 AM PDT by arrogantsob (Why do They hate her so much?)
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To: Dr. White

My dad, a Baptist minister, said this day was coming.


9 posted on 10/12/2011 11:38:31 AM PDT by Reagan69 (I supported Sarah Palin and all I got was a lousy DVD !)
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To: Dr. White

My dad, a Baptist minister, said this day was coming.


10 posted on 10/12/2011 11:38:46 AM PDT by Reagan69 (I supported Sarah Palin and all I got was a lousy DVD !)
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To: Dr. White
Americans United for Separation of Church and State and American Atheists, Inc. have filed briefs siding with the Obama administration against the church.

I suppose the irony of their position, in which they wish to have the government intimately involved in the business of the church, is lost upon them.

In my Thesaurus, 'involve' and 'separate' are antonyms.

11 posted on 10/12/2011 11:38:57 AM PDT by WayneS (Comments now include 25% more sarcasm at NO additional charge.)
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: massgopguy

US Govt. out of my rectory.


13 posted on 10/12/2011 11:39:27 AM PDT by sappy
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To: Reagan69

Yep, Barry O’s just salivating over this.


14 posted on 10/12/2011 11:40:57 AM PDT by BenKenobi (Honkeys for Herman! 10 percent is enough for God; 9 percent is enough for government)
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To: Dr. White

You’re free to believe as the government wants you to believe. Or else.


15 posted on 10/12/2011 11:41:17 AM PDT by mojito
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To: Dr. White

This isn’t about religion. It should be about this woman being physically unable to perform her job so the school hired a replacement. If there’s a case there, fine. Why are we dragging the religious element into it?


16 posted on 10/12/2011 11:42:01 AM PDT by sojourner
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To: Dr. White

“In late February, she showed up at the school and met with Principal Hoeft.”

Was she awake for the whole meeting?


17 posted on 10/12/2011 11:42:57 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: Dr. White

There coudn’t possibly exist a more clear violation of the First Amendment. This will never survive trial by the Supreme Court.

On the other hand, the fact that Obama would even attempt such nonsense is an indication of just how utterly benighted and intrusive this sick - and sickening - administration has become.


18 posted on 10/12/2011 11:46:20 AM PDT by Jack Hammer
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To: Dr. White

So can I have Rev. Wright’s church?


19 posted on 10/12/2011 11:46:48 AM PDT by mockingbyrd
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To: Dr. White
Americans need to wake up to the insidious erosion of our constitutional freedoms being undertaken by the Obama administration. This case is a shining example of how it happens. Note who is pushing it: atheist organizations. I seriously doubt it will find any favor with the Supreme Court as it attempts to use a weak argument based on a questionable civil rights premise. However, the Supreme Court ruling on Roe v Wade seems unbelievable now but still stands, 38 long years after it's imposition on Americans. That government agencies are a party to the Perich suit validates the proposition that this is an administration working against the concept of religious freedom and doing it through a side door, hoping that few will notice. Well, we notice. This suit must fail.
20 posted on 10/12/2011 11:49:30 AM PDT by Jim Scott
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To: Pride in the USA; Stillwaters
The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod told the court in its brief that its views on the ministry and the settlement of disputes may not be "widely shared" or "widely understood." "But," the church said, "they have been the views of orthodox Lutherans for centuries."

Acting Deputy Solicitor General Leondra Kruger told the court, during oral arguments, that the federal government should be able to trump the church on these decisions.

What is at stake is the First Amendment and the religious freedom of all Americans.

If the Obamanation gets another term, they will make at least a couple of Supreme Court appointments. If that happens, we will have passed the point of no return.

21 posted on 10/12/2011 11:50:46 AM PDT by lonevoice (The Fresh Prince of Bill Ayers, impeach we much. We will much about that be committed.)
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To: Dr. White

Hey, any “separation of church and state liberals” want to chime in?

*Crickets*


22 posted on 10/12/2011 11:50:55 AM PDT by GraceG
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To: Dr. White

German Churches and the Nazi State
http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10005206


23 posted on 10/12/2011 11:56:43 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (Better to ask forgiveness than permission.)
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To: Dr. White

Worshipping Almighty God is considered noxious to Iman hussein Soetero, son of Perdition!


24 posted on 10/12/2011 11:58:43 AM PDT by sheik yerbouty ( Make America and the world a jihad free zone!)
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To: Dr. White

I’m and old geezer here, so maybe I’m just a little too far over the hill to get this, but is there something contrary about Americans United calling for separation of church and state and then saying the state should decide who shall be the ministers in the church? Somebody help me please.


25 posted on 10/12/2011 12:16:02 PM PDT by navyblue (<u>)
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To: sojourner
This isn’t about religion. It should be about this woman being physically unable to perform her job so the school hired a replacement. If there’s a case there, fine. Why are we dragging the religious element into it?

The 'religious element' is inherent in the nature of the case when the defendant is a church. Not a cult, but a centuries-old, relatively 'liberal' Protestant church, at that. Cheryl Perich, the plaintiff, argues that the church violated various civil right-based laws and rules by replacing her after she had been effectively ordained ('called', in Lutheran church parlance) to be a minister. Unfortunately, due to Perich's apparently temporary inability to perform her teaching duties (narcolepsy) she was replaced as a teacher and, later, no longer afflicted with narcolepsy she was not able to regain her position (which had already been filled) so, she sued.

When she sued the church (her former employer) she violated church orthodoxy and was, in effect, relieved of her ministerial status as well as her job. Churches should be able to maintain this authority to select or dismiss those they employ on the basis of their adherence (or refusal to adhere) to the church's traditional code of conduct. In this case, as in many Protestant churches, filing a lawsuit against the church in the secular courts was grounds for the woman's dismissal from her ministerial position. I maintain that if a mainline, Protestant church cannot choose it's teachers and ministers without government intervention, religious freedom is lost.

26 posted on 10/12/2011 12:16:22 PM PDT by Jim Scott
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To: Dr. White
Americans United for Separation of Church and State .... have filed briefs siding with the Obama administration against the church.

I understand what those words mean, but that makes no sense.

27 posted on 10/12/2011 12:33:27 PM PDT by Oztrich Boy (New gets old. Steampunk is always cool)
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To: Dr. White

RE: DOJ: Feds Can Tell Church Who Its Ministers Will Be

China decides who the official Bishop of the Chinese Catholic church will be or who the Dalai Lama should be.

You can’t have a church unless you are recognize by their Three Self Movement.

China also has a thriving undergound Christian Church.

Maybe we’re going to be like China soon...


28 posted on 10/12/2011 12:41:36 PM PDT by SeekAndFind (u)
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To: chris37
I think I’m just about ready to move to Russia.

Just stay put, it's coming here!

29 posted on 10/12/2011 12:42:48 PM PDT by Reagan is King
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To: sheik yerbouty

He is too stupid to be the “son of Pedition”. The horned one would never in a billion years waste his time on Barry...who likes ice cream, plays golf, and uses terms like “I won” and “wee weed up”.


30 posted on 10/12/2011 12:48:56 PM PDT by Soothesayer9
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To: G Larry
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the type of action that the Danbury Baptists were worried about when they pleaded with then President Jefferson. Furthermore, opposing this ruling would be the proper interpretation of his (Jefferson) “separation of church and state” correspondence.
31 posted on 10/12/2011 12:50:58 PM PDT by ASU_94
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To: Dr. White
Americans United for Separation of Church and State and American Atheists, Inc. have filed briefs siding with the Obama administration against the church.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations, and the American Center for Law and Justice are among those who have filed briefs supporting the Lutherans.

Now, I've got to wonder if the Catholic, Mormon and Jew haters who frequent so many of these forms will pass up this opportunity to side with the Atheists against their real enemies.

32 posted on 10/12/2011 1:07:55 PM PDT by Vigilanteman (Obama: Fake black man. Fake Messiah. Fake American. How many fakes can you fit in one Zer0?)
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To: Reagan is King

Yeah, but at least their leader isn’t a ***got.


33 posted on 10/12/2011 1:22:30 PM PDT by chris37 (Heartless.)
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To: Charles Henrickson; lightman

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod being told who to hire??


34 posted on 10/12/2011 1:29:50 PM PDT by Arrowhead1952 (Dear God, thanks for the rain, but please let it rain more in Texas. Amen.)
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To: Dr. White

Hate to say it, but I feel O’Bummer is correct on this one. Nullification is not a part of the remedy available to Lutheran Pastors in order to remove their ordination. They have due process procedures in their own rules that must be followed.

If they follow their procedures, then they can do it. But, the process is not retroactive unless the ordination was done through fraudulent representation.


35 posted on 10/12/2011 1:30:27 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: massgopguy

It has basically come full circle for the LCMS(lutheran church missouri synod). The german immigrants who came to America that established this denomination came here because the German state was telling them how they needed to worship. Now the US Government is doing the same to them again. Where do I go now?


36 posted on 10/12/2011 1:32:04 PM PDT by scbison
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To: Jim Scott
relatively 'liberal' Protestant church

The Missouri Synod Lutherans I know are among the most conservative people I know. It's the ELCA's that are liberals. Not that it matters in this case.

37 posted on 10/12/2011 1:37:10 PM PDT by workerbee (We're not scared, Maobama -- we're pissed off!)
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To: Dr. White

More government overreach despite the First Amendment. Freedom of religion?

Sadly, this kind of overreach is typical. We’ve had an advancing wave of this kind of tyranny under most governments we’ve had lately, but it’s greatly advanced under this one.


38 posted on 10/12/2011 1:39:27 PM PDT by TBP (Obama lies, Granny dies.)
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To: tired&retired

That’s very nice, but these “ministers” are not ordained clergy; they’re merely elementary school teachers. To be a teacher in an LCMS school, one must receive requisite theological training and be “called” by the congregation supporting the school. The ministry of an LCMS teacher is limited to his or her duties as a teacher, much as, say, the duties of an extraordinary minister in the Catholic Church is limited to assisting in distribution of the communion host.


39 posted on 10/12/2011 1:41:10 PM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: massgopguy

“A “separation of church and state” group wants the government running churches?”

The Left has always been about “how to fool them today,” including outright lies to hide what they are really up to. They don’t really care about “separation of church and state”, they care about indoctrination BY the state, schools and any other means possible.

Anyone who doesn’t know that that phrase is not constitutional can look to the deliberate agenda of Americans not even knowing their own heritage.

Or taking the trouble to homeschool their own children.

Use it or lose it. That is what Americans have been doing for a long time, not USING it.

Freedom!


40 posted on 10/12/2011 1:42:43 PM PDT by TruthConquers (Delendae sunt publicae scholae)
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To: TBP

The idea of gay preachers is an on-going thing in my denomination. A lawyer friend at church thinks that the discussion will be moot as someday the church will be forced to allow anyone to be a preacher.

Although I just read where the courts did okay World Vision’s hiring of only christians here in the U.S. (I think WV offices in other countries have always had lots of local employees regardless of religion).


41 posted on 10/12/2011 1:46:03 PM PDT by 21twelve (Obama Recreating the New Deal: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2185147/posts)
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To: Dr. White

You all are missing the point here. It is my belief that the real issue is over the fact that as a “called” ministry leader, she can claim a housing deduction under IRS guidelines. The IRS rules (Publication #517) state that those who are “ordained, licensed or commissioned” can be called “ministers” and those are the folks who can be granted housing allowances. For a teacher in a religious school, that can make a huge difference in how much they can take home in their paychecks. JMHO...


42 posted on 10/12/2011 1:57:31 PM PDT by jettester (I got paid to break 'em - not fly 'em)
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To: Dr. White

It looks like Perich has a bigger problem than narcolepsy.

The ADA was an atrocious law that never should have been passed into law as it was. In order to get rights for truly disabled, they had to compromise on too many other issues. A self-declared alcoholic or drug addict is, by government fiat, ‘disabled’ in the same category as one who cannot see or walk. And, as such, they are entitled to very generous government benefits, cash and medical, that frees them up to continue their addiction.


43 posted on 10/12/2011 1:59:41 PM PDT by EDINVA ( Jimmy McMillan '12: because RENT'S, TOO DAMN HIGH)
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To: G Larry

If it does uphold this Nazi position (remember Hitler thought he could control the German church as well) prepare for the Confessing church — and for screams in the night when the Army 0 says he needed.


44 posted on 10/12/2011 2:00:40 PM PDT by StonyBurk (ring)
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To: chris37

...where you don’t have to worry whether or not all the priests are sleeper agents for the FSB.


45 posted on 10/12/2011 2:53:05 PM PDT by yup2394871293
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To: onedoug
Can they appoint rabbis and imams too?

Yes they can! But only to mosques and synagogues respectively. :)


46 posted on 10/12/2011 2:54:02 PM PDT by magooey (The Mandate of Heaven resides in the hearts of men.)
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To: Dr. White

PC insanity.


47 posted on 10/12/2011 2:54:33 PM PDT by yup2394871293
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To: Mr. Lucky
“The ministry of an LCMS teacher is limited to his or her duties as a teacher, much as, say, the duties of an extraordinary minister in the Catholic Church is limited to assisting in distribution of the communion host.”

If that is the case, it would be questionable as to whether she would qualify as a minister or clergy under the federal tax law. The law requires that the person be able to perform “substantially all” of the duties of the ordained clergy. The test case was a Jewish Cantor who won the case that he was a rabbi under fed. tax law. The key is in one’s ability to deliver sacraments.

I don't agree with all the various church rules, but respect their right to have them as long as they do not harm others. I have worked with most of the major denominations and quite a few of the independent and even a few fringe groups. You can't imagine some of the legalistic rules that exist. Some Christian groups resemble the Islamic groups in their suppression of women.

48 posted on 10/12/2011 3:51:42 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: jettester

“The IRS rules (Publication #517) state that those who are “ordained, licensed or commissioned” can be called “ministers” and those are the folks who can be granted housing allowances.”

Exactly. That’s out of code section 107. Teacher’s normally do not qualify. It’s a facts and circumstances thing rather than a title. I have handled IRS cases where the clergy was a university professor and we still got away with it. I’ve also won by calling the teachers “Youth Ministers.” Semantics, but it makes the substance look better.


49 posted on 10/12/2011 3:57:10 PM PDT by tired&retired
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To: tired&retired
You can't imagine some of the legalistic rules that exist. Some Christian groups resemble the Islamic groups in their suppression of women.

In what specific ways do you assert that to be so?

50 posted on 10/12/2011 4:20:55 PM PDT by Dr. White
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