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Written by Sorin A. Leahu Is the law settled when it comes to eliminating religious symbols from public places? Or are we still awaiting a case with broader implications for religious exercise? On June 20, 2019 the United States Supreme Court issued an important decision finding that the State of Maryland did not violate the establishment clause by allowing the Bladensburg Peace Cross on public land. Nor did the State violate the establishment clause by using public funds to maintain the cross. By way of background, the cross is a 40-foot Latin cross erected in 1925 to pay tribute to World…
What kind of house has no walls, no doors, and no roof, but restricts the speech of those who dwell within it? Apparently Millennium Park, which Chicago authorities have recently divided into “rooms” to suppress free expression. On March 17, a student from Wheaton College made efforts to spread the gospel in Millennium Park while standing near Cloud Gate (commonly known as The Bean) by respectfully speaking about Jesus and distributing free religious literature. The student peacefully interacted with other park visitors without causing a disruption, but they were stopped by a park authority that claimed it was against the…
When the Foundations Are Being Destroyed, What Can the Righteous Do? The Equality Act and What it Means for You Written by Richard C. Baker At a time of great turmoil in Israel’s history, the psalmist wrote in Psalm 113, “When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” We are faced with a similar question today in our nation. On March 13, 2019, a bill labeled H.R. 5 and known as the “Equality Act” was introduced into the House of Representatives. This bill was an urgent priority to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House’s Democratic majority. It…
Written by Soo Yeon Lee Having an estate plan can make a big difference when it comes to preserving your legacy. Not sure if you need one? Comparing and contrasting can be an effective way to see the benefits and reasons to have an estate plan. Because everyone is different, pay special attention to the numbered items that are particularly relevant to your circumstance. If you are a young parent with young children see numbers 1, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 13, and 14 If you are a parent with special needs children (or if you have special needs) see…
Written by Whitman H. Brisky Divisions in the church are like fires. If not properly contained and handled, they can destroy the fellowship and witness of entire congregations, not to mention the faith of those involved. Many of those burnt by divisions in the church leave and never come back. However, if properly handled, divisions can refine a congregation and, in some cases, even help build the Kingdom. For better or for worse, church splits and divisions happen. While pastors may be equipped to handle the spiritual and personal dynamics that fuel division in the church, they are likely not…
For a church leader to be fully ministry-minded they must be vigilant to protect their flock from things that can detract from the Gospel and divide their congregation. This involves being constantly aware of potential legal pitfalls within their church. These pitfalls can take the form of unexpected encounters with the authorities. Although the government cannot infringe upon religious liberty, churches are still subject to many legal stipulations like other nonprofit organizations. If not in careful compliance, you may see your church involved in an unfortunate legal situation. Many times, churches are also responsible for the care of those involved…
Attending law school is not a spontaneous decision. There is much time spent balancing on the fence, trying not to fall prematurely on either side of the decision. Well, let me nudge you a little. If you’ve been thinking about going to law school, then go. Spiritual warfare comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes they take the shape of legal battles and Christian lawyers are on the front lines. A law degree opens the door to glorifying Jesus in an extremely fruitful way. There are not many careers that provide better opportunities to spread Gospel than the law. Legal…
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…