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New Parking Ordinance Helping Churches Written by Richard C. Baker The author of Ecclesiastes wrote that there is nothing new under the sun. So just as the Jews returning from Babylon after the Exile found their building project for a new temple mired in red tape and neighbors’ objections for many years (Ezra 4:4; Nehemiah 4:1-9), so too every pastor or church board looking to purchase, build, renovate or expand a church in Chicago knows, it can be extremely hard to find the right property given the City’s zoning process. While there are many written and unwritten rules governing the…
The Controversy Over Custody Modified excerpt from pages 96-99 of Jesus in the Courtroom by John W. Mauck When Bethany Christian Services’ announced their plans to compromise with the state of Michigan by not discriminating against LGBT couples who wanted to adopt and foster children through their organization, many Christians responded with conflicting views. Some expressed anger at the government’s infringement on religious liberty, while others decried BCS for “giving in.” But in this controversy over custody, what many are forgetting are the overall best interests of the child. A child’s biological parents are, generally speaking, best qualified and most…
Mission Trip Do’s and Dangers Written by Attorney Sorin A. Leahu If you work in ministry, you know that some of the most exciting times of the year involve mission trips and outings. These events, however, should not be rushed into without careful legal planning. Unfortunately, you can never fully remove the risk associated with these events, but you can plan accordingly should the unexpected happen. The basic starting point for any trip or event should be the assumption of risk form. Adults who participate in these events should be required to sign a form assuming risks which are clearly…
I am sure you might wonder why a man at the time having been in ministry for over 29 years, a candidate for pastorate at three different churches, and preaching across the country weekly killed his wife in a sudden unanticipated moment of passion. It is a haunting question I seek to answer daily. I cannot honestly say my life was a sinless life, which to a degree contributed to my fall from grace. I lived in fellowship with peers in ministry that condoned the practice of sin. Many of the pastors I associated with practiced fornication and adulterous behavior.…
Mauck & Baker’s client, Christian Fellowship Centers of New York (CFC) received a favorable ruling in the nick of time. Over the past several months CFC has faced hostility from many members of the town as well as religious discrimination from Village of Canton officials who refused to permit the church to use its recently purchased building as a place of worship. CFC had been renting from various facilities in Canton in order to hold services each week, but had nowhere to meet on March 31. As a result, church officials had cancelled service for the date. However, on March…
Written by public relations specialist, Tom Ciesielka In light of the media attention for the movie Unplanned, you might have noticed a trend that continues when issues of life and abortion are involved. Although this movie was able to get widespread attention, pro-life voices continue to be largely suppressed or negatively reviewed. Twitter even “accidentally” suspended the film’s social media account for a brief time for no apparent reason other than to limit their impact. So how can pro-life advocates break through the largely abortion-supporting media? The reality of major media’s anti-life bias The traditional media has long been in…
An excerpt from “The Church and the Jews” by Daniel Gruber At first the Christian Passover was celebrated at the same time as the Jewish; this simultaneous observance was preserving the Jewish ritual in the Christian festival, and strengthening the bonds between Christianity and Judaism. Until the date was changed. At the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. it was decided that all the churches should celebrate the Passover, or actually Easter, on the ecclesiastically chosen Sunday rather than the Biblical date. All the churches were thus informed. The Emperor Constantine sent his personal exhortation to all the churches concerning…
If you’ve lived in a residence that is a part of a homeowners or condominium association, you’ve probably been briefed with the rules: Nothing can be displayed in the front yard, and nothing hung on the front door. Many HOAs or condo associations prohibit the posting of items on the exterior of one’s building, but can they prevent you from expressing your religion in this way? What are your rights? In the past, there have been numerous cases of discrimination on the basis of religion by housing authorities and associations; many involving disputes over the common Jewish practice of placing…
Mauck & Baker has written an amicus curiae brief in support of Alliance Defending Freedom’s certiorari petition to the United States Supreme Court on behalf of Tree of Life Christian Schools in their case against the City of Upper Arlington, Ohio. This request for review comes after several unfavorable rulings and an eight-year long legal battle after Tree of Life Christian Schools purchased a vacant building that was formerly occupied by AOL/Time-Warner to accommodate their rapidly increasing amount of students. When they applied for a zoning permit to expand their school into the new building they were denied, even though…
     If you’re a person of faith, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act is something you should know about. This law has been instrumental in protecting religious freedom. But the government’s failure to clarify certain aspects of this law have led to misinterpretation (whether intentional or not) by many municipalities. This is affecting the ability of many congregations to worship freely in their communities. To amend these issues, the land use aspects of RLUIPA (which became law back in 2000), need to be reviewed.      RLUIPA, as it acronymically known, has secured important liberties, created enormous…
Written by Richard C. BakerThe 5th annual March for Life Chicago—one of many being held nationwide to remember the 46th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision—took over the Loop on Sunday, January 13, 2019. In the 5 years that the March has taken place in Chicago, I have watched it grow from just a small crowd to an estimated 7,000, filling the Federal Plaza and spilling over into the surrounding streets, before taking to the route through the Loop. Groups from all over the Midwest: Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Ohio and Missouri, all joined…
Recently, a concerned individual contacted Mauck & Baker regarding an experience she had at her local library in which she attempted to visit a conservative Christian website on the public computer, but access to the website was blocked. When she asked library staff why the website was not available, they told her that it appeared on their blocklist as an identified hate group. This supposed “hate group” was the Illinois Family Institute, an organization that seeks to “advance public policy initiatives that are consistent with Judeo-Christian teachings and traditions” and a familiar partner with Mauck & Baker. Seeing a conservative,…
Written by Brian Trujillo Should there be religious exemptions to generally applicable anti-discrimination laws? I recently took a course with about 33 of my law school peers where our task was to think deeply about this question. With selections from the Professor’s manuscript and other selected readings in hand we were asked to either critique or support our Professor’s answer to this question. His position was that there should be religious exemptions to these laws but only in very specific situations and only if the religious dissenter is willing to bear the cost of carrying out his beliefs. We were…
Written by Whitman H. Brisky –  See this article featured in The Christian Post What happens to church property when most of its members depart, leaving only an unpopular pastor and a few of his close friends and family to determine its use? Unfortunately, in all too many cases, the congregation essentially shuts down as an active ministry, converts the property to cash, and then pays the remaining funds to (or for the benefit of) the pastor. Frequently the money is paid out as salary for doing very little since the congregation is now defunct. Even worse, in some situations we…