The Third Circuit issued an opinion on February 9, 2012, deciding a prisoner RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act) case that contained an issue of first impression. The importance of this case for future reference will likely be the holding that RLUIPA does not permit government employees to be sued as individuals, but only in their governmental capacity. (The act protects both religious land use, such as for churches in zoning issues, and religious expression in institutions such as prisons.)
The national dialogue on religious law issues often generates more heat than light. In public debate, speakers stand on a soapbox shouting and cheer-leading their own side.Voices get shrill and invective flies about the “other side.” Let’s take one common example. Free exercise in the public schools touches two passions—people’s religion and their children. And it triggers protective feelings because of deep fears.
A minister may not claim more than one residence under the parsonage allowance exemption, based on the opinion in Comm'r of IRS v. Driscoll, issued February 8, 2012 by the Eleventh Circuit. For some time, debate has raged about this issue, both on statutory and fairness grounds, so this is an important decision.
Three recent federal circuit court decisions address how conservative Christian therapists may interact with homosexual clients in cases where personal beliefs may conflict with a duty of client care. Despite different outcomes, there may be common principles. Schools and employers may not require therapists to change their religious convictions, but under the American Counseling Association (ACA) code of ethics, therapists may not impose values on their clients. Referrals can solve the problem, if done tactfully.
A few years back, values-based referrals by counselors were proper under the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics if done tactfully, so as not to wound the client, and were ethically permissible if the therapist, because of personal beliefs, could not provide what the client was seeking. Since we first reported on this issue, several big changes have altered that premise, most importantly, a major change in the ACA Code of Ethics.
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