Skip to comments.Supreme Court: Discrimination laws do not protect certain employees of religious groups
Posted on 01/16/2012 7:30:19 AM PST by tired&retired
"Justice Clarence Thomas said in a concurring opinion that he would go beyond the majoritys holding and leave up to the church the definition of who is covered by the exception. Civil courts, he said, should defer to a religious organizations good-faith understanding of who qualifies as a minister.
Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan wrote separately to make clear that they do not think the term minister is central to courts determining who is covered by the exemption. Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists rarely use the title, they wrote.
The function performed by the employee is key, Alito wrote.
He said it should apply to anyone who leads a religious organization, conducts worship services or important religious ceremonies or rituals, or serves as a messenger or teacher of its faith.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that the courts should get out of the business of trying to decide who qualifies for the ministerial exception, leaving the determination to religious groups.
The question whether an employee is a minister is itself religious in nature, and the answer will vary widely, he wrote. Judicial attempts to fashion a civil definition of minister through a bright-line test or multifactor analysis risk disadvantaging those religious groups whose beliefs, practices and membership are outside of the mainstream or unpalatable to some.
This resembles, of course, the legal battles over who is and who is not covered by the confidentiality protections extended to priests who hear confessions. How does this apply to religious groups that have counseling, but not sacramental confession?
There will be much more debate to come. It is especially important to see who mainstream journalists allow to interpret this decision in future analysis reports. Watch for voices on both sides of the these divisive issues. Even a 9-0 decision cannot answer all of these explosive church-state questions.
This area of law was my specialty for about 30 years. It is absolutely fascinating how the trend is turning.
Justice Clarence Thomas said in a concurring opinion that he would go beyond the majority's holding and leave up to the church the definition of who is covered by the exception. Civil courts, he said, should "defer to a religious organization's good-faith understanding of who qualifies as a minister." Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr. and Elena Kagan wrote separately to make clear that they do not think the term "minister" is central to courts determining who is covered by the exemption.
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Please tell us how.
One of the nice things about being a member of a medium sized conservative bible based Christian chuch is that almost every position can be filled by members of the Church. This keeps out the gays and litigious liberals. We don’t have to mess with these issues.
Yep. You don’t “fire” volunteers.
“Please tell us how.”
I assume you are referring to my comment on how the trend is turning.
The tax laws are attacking religion and establishing a set of laws to define “minister in a very restrictive sense. The IRS have established a checklist of about twelve criteria. Recently an internet minister was denied the right to be a minister under the tax code. Clergy receive very preferential tax treatment and others want to share by calling themselves ministers. There are a lot of fraudulent ministers out there who are just trying to get special treatment and are not in it for right purpose, however you define that term.
The Supreme Court case from last week turns the tide in the opposite direction. I don’t have time to go into details, but I will address any specific questions.
Even paid employees recruited from within the Church membership are generally safe. Our Church includes a faily large school and every single paid teacher and administrator are also members of the Church who were recruited from within the Church.