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A Safer Playground

The Trinity Lutheran case is the U.S. Supreme Court’s latest religious liberty decision. Learn more about this important case with the overview update.

Cyber Security in Less Secure Countries

Cyber security is an increasingly hot topic, particularly for businesses and organizations working in certain areas of the world. This note summarizes and directs you to the Cyber Security Report.

Commercial Lease Issues for Churches or Spiritual Organizations

This is a guest post by Eric L. Nesbitt, who practices real estate law. Your Church should carefully review a commercial lease for permissive or restrictive use clauses, parking lot use, hours of access to the property, and responsibility for property damage.

Should religious employers jump on the “ban the box” bandwagon?

If your ministry asks potential volunteers or employees about any criminal record, do you need to throw out your application and start anew in light your state’s “ban the box” law? This post addresses how religious employers should be aware of “ban the box” laws and the changing legal landscape of considering criminal history in hiring.

Recovered Memory Therapy is Dangerous for Therapists as Well as Patients

Recovered memory therapy continues to be a controversial topic, with experts debating about whether it is valid. As a legal matter, this controversy has slowly spilled over into an increased risk of liability for the therapist who chooses to use the technique. More and more states are holding that parents of children who recover memories of sexual abuse can sue the child’s therapist because the therapist has helped to create false allegations against them. Michigan is the latest jurisdiction to affirm the right of a child’s parent to sue the child’s therapist.

Courts and Churches—Interfering in Some Ways But Not Others

Not everything a church does to a pastor is outside the reach of the court. That is a recent lesson church officials learned in a case out of Ohio federal court dealing with the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. Also known as the church autonomy doctrine, this is the principle that civil courts will stay out of the doctrinal and important decisions a church makes, such as the decision to fire a pastor or remove a parishioner from membership. This case, Barrow v. Living Word Church, et al.,1 is an interesting twist on the doctrine, and serves as a word of caution for churches.

Four Things Your Ministry Needs to Do to Get Ready for the New Overtime Rules

Pastors work tirelessly preparing for sermons, counseling parishioners, and managing other administrative aspects of running a church. A teacher at a religious school spends countless hours developing lesson plans, and even more instructing students on matters of doctrine. A missionary’s work in the field does not fit the traditional 9 to 5 work day, and the person may be “on call” nearly 24-7. Often, religious workers, driven by a sense of calling, work far more than a 40-hour-work week. Does a religious organization have to pay overtime under a federal law called the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)? While the answer used to be “most likely not,” a recent change in the rules governing when overtime must be paid creates some confusion, and probably a mixed result.

Seven Lessons from Archdiocese Criminal Prosecution

The State of Minnesota filed criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The charge was six counts of a gross misdemeanor criminal complaint, for putting children at risk in various ways. What lessons should organizations gather from this criminal complaint?

Reporting Child Abuse in Obscure Contexts

sad-child-park-benchIf your organization is in the United States or other countries with well-established child abuse reporting laws, then reporting is simple. If the alleged abuse happened in a country where reporting protocol is not established—or you have a multijurisdictional nightmare—or abuse that is historic—it may not be clear whether and how to report.

Practical Ways for Your Church to Respond to an Allegation of Child Abuse

church buildingOne of the hardest things your church may ever deal with is an allegation of child sexual abuse. These allegations create responsibilities for reporting to law enforcement, for ministering to people who are hurt, evaluating child safety procedures that are in place, interacting with media, dealing with offenders, considering legal issues, and other tough challenges.

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