Bryan Cave’s Religious Organizations Team has substantial experience with First Amendment and religious accommodation issues that are critical for religious organizations seeking to cultivate and advance their distinctly religious character and mission. We help our clients navigate through the complex and dynamic intersection of religion and civil law.
Religious Tax Exemptions. We assist clients in securing the benefit of property, sales/use and income tax exemptions based on their religious character and/or mission. We also help clients with more specialized exemptions, such as the housing allowance for ministers, “church” status under the Internal Revenue Code and the religious employer exemption in the Affordable Care Act.
Faith-Based Employment. We advise and represent clients on the right to make employment decisions based on religious considerations (pursuant to federal, state and local laws). We help clients develop policies and practices to ensure that they retain this right in various employment contexts.
Amicus Briefs. We prepare and file amicus briefs in key federal and state cases involving legal principles particularly important to religious organizations. In 2010, 2011 and 2013, we filed briefs on behalf of over 40 national religious organization clients in 3 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Church Property. We represent a number of church denominational bodies in church property disputes. These denominations include The Christian and Missionary Alliance and Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles (in a case involving several local churches in which the California Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Diocese).
Immigration. We have successfully challenged numerous erroneous interpretations by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service of various religious worker visa requirements. In addition, we have submitted extensive comments on behalf of a broad coalition of religious organizations with respect to proposed regulations that would make it more difficult to obtain religious worker visas.
Funding for Faith-Based Organization. We have advised faith-based organizations with respect to opportunities to receive funds from governmental agencies for their activities. We have identified and challenged the conditions attached to such funds that could impair the religious character and mission of our clients.
We have advised many clients on religious accommodation matters, including: