[T]he district court’s interpretation and application of the Discipline was constitutionally sound. In resolving the dispute, the court looked to the corporation’s governing documents, “without inquiring into matters of church doctrine.” The Discipline requires any meeting of the Charge Conference or the Church Conference to be presided over and called by the district superintendent. The Discipline does not authorize mail-in voting....
Free Wesleyan argues that these matters relate to “faith and doctrine.” We disagree. Whether a corporate meeting must be called and presided over by a certain person and whether voting members must be present at a meeting are not matters of religious doctrine or faith.
In the summer of 2007, Williams met another Jehovah’s Witnesses congregant (“Church Member”). Williams and Church Member began seeing each other socially, but the relationship quickly changed and throughout the rest of the year Church Member physically and sexually assaulted Williams, who was a minor....
After questioning Williams about her sexual conduct, the Elders played an audio recording of Church Member raping Williams. Church Member recorded this incident and gave it to the Elders during their investigation of Williams. The recording was “several hours” in length. Williams cried and protested as the Elders replayed the recording. The Elders played the recording for “four to five hours” stopping and starting it to ask Williams whether she consented to the sexual acts. During the meeting Williams was “crying and physically quivering.” Williams conceded she was able to leave but risked being disfellowshipped if she did....
Allowing Williams’s claims in this case to be litigated would require the district court to unconstitutionally inject itself into substantive ecclesiastical matters. Williams argues she is not challenging the Church’s ability to determine what constitutes “sinful behavior”.... But Williams asks the factfinder to assess the manner in which the Church conducted a religious judicial committee, which requires it to assess religiously prescribed conduct....
We conclude Williams’s claim for IIED requires an inquiry into the appropriateness of the Church’s conduct in applying a religious practice and therefore violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Today, we are delivering a clear message to the professors and power structures trying to suppress dissent and keep young Americans — and all Americans, not just young Americans like Ellen and Kaitlyn and Polly — from challenging rigid, far-left ideology. People who are confident in their beliefs do not censor others — we don’t want to censor others — they welcome free, fair and open debate. And that’s what we’re demanding.
Under the policy I am announcing today, federal agencies will use their authority under various grant-making programs to ensure that public universities protect, cherish — protect the First Amendment and First Amendment rights of their students, or risk losing billions and billions of dollars of federal taxpayer dollars.The Executive Order itself, however, is vaguer, saying:
It is the policy of the Federal Government to: (a) encourage institutions to foster environments that promote open, intellectually engaging, and diverse debate, including through compliance with the First Amendment for public institutions and compliance with stated institutional policies regarding freedom of speech for private institutions;....
To advance the policy described in subsection 2(a) of this order, the heads of covered agencies shall, in coordination with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, take appropriate steps, in a manner consistent with applicable law, including the First Amendment, to ensure institutions that receive Federal research or education grants promote free inquiry, including through compliance with all applicable Federal laws, regulations, and policies.Much of the Executive Order is devoted to other issues-- primarily transparency regarding the cost of college and student borrowing.
This case addresses 27 Non-liturgical Navy Chaplains plaintiffs’ longstanding claims of retaliation and low fitness reports...; constructive discharge because of unlawful FOS [failures of selection]; and interference with their ministry, speaking, preaching and worship services based on denominational prejudice.
This retaliation resulted in plaintiffs’ FOS and either separation for FOS or constructive discharges. Senior Navy chaplains are the perpetrators and sources of these claims, primarily Roman Catholic and/or Liturgical Protestants, in positions of authority, influence and supervision representing and acting under the authority of the Navy and its CHC. The actions represent a pattern and practice of illegal retaliation and discrimination based on denominational hostility and prejudice.WAVY Newsreports on the lawsuit.
The leader and the main treasurer of the Israelite Church of God in Jesus Christ admitted their respective roles today in a scheme in which both men caused the church to pay millions of dollars in personal expenses for the leader that the leader then omitted from his personal tax returns....
Grant and Warrington used their leadership positions in the church to divert to Grant millions of dollars belonging to the church and its members for Grant’s personal use and benefit. The defendants used a variety of methods to carry out the scheme. For example, Grant and Warrington created a purported entertainment company that portrayed Grant as an industry mogul whose wealth was derived from his success in the industry, thereby concealing from church members that his lifestyle was supported entirely by the church and donations from its members.
The Magistrate Judge... found that the burden imposed on Plaintiffs was de minimis.... RFRA prohibits substantial burdens on the free exercise of religion absent a compelling governmental interest achieved by the least restrictive means.... Describing the thousands of dollars Plaintiffs have paid in ACA penalties since 2014 as de minimis may not be fair. However, that does not render the penalties substantially burdensome, either. Plaintiffs offer no indication that they are forced to decide between their religious beliefs and a benefit generally available. Moreover, Plaintiffs do not allege or otherwise show that the ACA penalty places a substantial burden on them to modify their religious conduct.... [T]he cost of the penalty would not exceed the cost to obtain the required level of insurance. Plaintiffs do not indicate how this applies substantial pressure to forego their religious beliefs. Staying true to their religion and avoiding health insurance would cost no more, and potentially cost less, than purchasing insurance at the expense of their religious beliefs.
This case requires determination whether Holy Trinity, a monastic corporate entity formed by a schismatic faction that left the ROEA, could claim ownership of the property that the faction conveyed from Holy Ascension before dissolving it. The ROEA contends that Holy Ascension owned but held in trust for the ROEA, a hierarchical church, the disputed property pursuant to church documents governing the ecclesiastical structure, polity, rules, discipline, and usage of the church with which Holy Ascension affiliated itself and to which it submitted....
In this case, the trial court failed to consider whether the ROEA constituted a hierarchical religious organization and did not examine the nature of the relationship of Holy Ascension with the ROEA and the Orthodox Church in America. The trial court failed to consider whether the actual adjudication of the legal claims in this case required the resolution of ecclesiastical questions, including the relationships between entities within the allegedly hierarchical religious denomination. Instead, the trial court stated without explanation that it found the dispute in this case merely secular requiring it to apply the neutral-principles-of-law approach. In so doing, the trial court erred.
The record reflects that the trial court substituted its interpretation of canonical texts and ignored the decisions of the ROEA relating to government of the religious polity. The trial court disregarded the evidence presented by the ROEA that required it to abstain and defer to the ROEA’s resolution of the property dispute.
Although the resolution moots Redeemer Fellowship’s request for injunctive relief, it does not moot the church’s request for damages or for declaratory relief. Redeemer Fellowship’s prayer for relief asks that the court declare that the Town engaged in content-based discrimination and violated the church’s rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments..... Redeemer Fellowship’s damages claim—the success of which depends on the court declaring that its constitutional rights were violated by the Town’s ban on religious worship services—survives this order. The court leaves it to the parties to determine whether or not Redeemer Fellowship did in fact suffer any damages by the Town’s prohibition of the church’s use of the Civic Center for their worship services from May 2018, when the church’s application for use of the Center was denied, until December 2018, when the Town rescinded the ban.
Anti-Semitism is a deadly hatred. Defendants either disagree with this statement or share in this hatred because, for years, they have stubbornly refused to remove anti-Semitic and anti-Israel materials from the history lessons that they teach in the high schools of the City of Newton. Despite significant community concerns, scholarly findings of anti-Jewish bias, and formal citizen requests for remedial action, Defendants have categorically and repeatedly refused to remedy the teaching of false and hateful stereotypes about Israel, Israelis, and the Jewish people. These refusals are not simply indecent and vile: they are also illegal under Massachusetts education and civil rights laws.Newton Wicked Local reports on the lawsuit. (See prior related posting.)
Plaintiff alleges that the change in beneficiary designation was improper because Fr. Cassem’s vows prevented him from legally acquiring personal property and, therefore, he never owned the Accounts. Plaintiff alleges that “Fr. Cassem’s final vows constitute an enforceable contract among and between the Province and Fr. Cassem, through which Fr. Cassem fully and finally renounced and assigned any and all property then owned or later acquired to the Province.”... The Province argues that because Fr. Cassem was not entitled to retain or direct property for the benefit of any party other than the Province, the original designation of the Province as the beneficiary of the Accounts remains valid and enforceable.The court held, however, that plaintiff's contract claim is pre-empted by ERISA, saying in part:
The statute is intended to protect beneficiaries relying on long-accumulated benefits from having to fight challenges to those benefits under disparate standards.The court rejected the Order's argument that ERISA pre-emption violates its rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, saying in part:
whether or not the statute can apply to cases between private parties, RFRA certainly cannot be used as a procedural mechanism to legitimize a cause of action that contravenes federal law for a plaintiff that is contesting dismissal.... In any event, even if RFRA is applicable in the present case, it does not preclude ERISA preemption because ERISA does not impose a “substantial burden” on Plaintiff’s free exercise of religion.
Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the District distributed a policy memo to area superintendents and principals regarding the First Amendment’s "limits on the conduct of public school officials as it relates to religious activity."