Religious Organizations Team
Bryan Cave provides counsel to a wide variety of churches, church denominations, religious educational institutions and other religious organizations. We regularly advise religious organization clients on matters related to all aspects of their operations, including tax planning, commercial activities, intellectual property protection, data privacy, employment, employee benefits, corporate structure and governance, risk management and insurance, finance, and international activities and structure as well as operations in “closed” countries.
Our team also helps organizations navigate the complex and dynamic intersection of religion and the law as they cultivate and advance their distinctly religious character and mission.
Our attorneys specialize in the legal issues critical for religious organizations, including a wide range of religious tax, statutory and regulatory requirements and exemptions, as well as constitutional issues that uniquely impact religious organizations. Our work in these areas has included:
- Religious Tax Exemptions – assisting clients in securing the benefit of property, sales/use and income tax exemptions, including the religious employer exemption in the Affordable Care Act;
- Faith-Based Employment – advising clients on developing policies and practices that implement their right to make employment decisions based on religious considerations (pursuant to federal, state and local laws
- Church Property – representing – successfully – church denominational bodies in church property disputes;
- Immigration – securing religious worker visas and challenging faulty interpretations by the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service of various religious worker visa requirements;
- Funding for Faith-Based Organizations – advising faith-based organizations on governmental agency funding, including tax-exempt financing, for their activities, and identifying and challenging the “strings” attached to funds that potentially impair the religious character and mission of our clients;
- Alternative Dispute Resolution – helping organizations ensure that disputes are handled in accordance with their particular religious convictions (e.g., we obtained the first federal court order enforcing a Christian arbitration clause in a contract);
- Amicus Briefs — preparing and filing amicus briefs in key federal and state religious liberty cases, arguing for legal principles particularly important to Religious Organizations;
- Religious Expression in Schools — advising religious organizations and public school districts on the rights and permissible limits of religious expression in public schools.