Constitutional and statutory provisions create a special legal regime for churches and other religious institutions. This seminar provides a bird’s eye view of free exercise and establishment clause case law, Religious Freedom Restoration Act developments, forms of organization, and IRS provisions affecting religious organizations.
Key topics to be discussed:
First Amendment protections for religious organizations
Incorporation and other forms of organization for religious institutions under State laws
Principles of church governance in corporate context
Internal Revenue Service tax exemption and limitations on exemption
State laws limiting volunteer liability
Judicial abstention in cases involving religious conflicts
Date / Time: November 9, 2023
Jonathan Robert Nelson | Nelson Madden Black LLP
Jonathan Nelson practices primarily in the fields of civil litigation and corporate law, with a concentration on the representation of religious institutions. He is a highly regarded church law practitioner.
In 1991, after eight years of practice with major law firms in Chicago and New York City, Mr. Nelson began to develop an independent law practice representing religious institutions and others. Since then, Mr. Nelson has represented or advised hundreds of clients in the religious community, including Christian churches of many kinds, synagogues, mosques, a religious order, Hindu temples, Jungians, a Yoruba cultural center, pastors, church trustees, missionaries, and victims of religious persecution seeking asylum. Mr. Nelson has been a panelist or speaker at meetings organized by the American Bar Association, the New York City Bar Association and other lawyers’ groups. He has also served as lead counsel in numerous judicial and administrative litigations, including a precedent-setting lawsuit brought by the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church against the City of New York in 2001 to enforce the church’s First Amendment rights to serve homeless people on the steps of the church. Mr. Nelson has been listed in SuperLawyers since 2012 and has been rated “AV Preeminent” since 1998.
I. Constitutional Background | 2:00pm – 2:20pm
Foundational laws – sacred and secular – which law governs what sphere?
III. Organizing Churches and Auxiliary Entities | 2:40pm – 3:00pm
Non- corporate forms
Attorney General Oversight of Charities
Provisions in articles of incorporation to permit tax exemption
Denominational Books of Order
Break | 3:00pm – 3:10pm
IV. Tax Exemption Under I.R.C. Section 501(c)(3) for Churches and Related Entities | 3:10pm – 3:30pm
“Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, …, or educational purposes, … no part of the net earnings of which insures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation…, and which does not participate in, or intervene in …, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”
What is a Church According to the IRS?
State and Local Tax Exemption for Churches
IRS Form 990
State reporting requirements and exemptions
V. Fund Raising | 3:30pm – 3:50pm
IRS Reporting and Substantiation Requirements Relating to Contributions
Donor’s point of view
Quid Pro Quo Contributions
Charitable Solicitation Regulation
Unrelated Business Income Tax
Raising Funds Through Conduct of a Business
VI. Conduct of Church Activities | 3:50pm – 4:10pm
Political/Legislative Involvement by Churches/Religious Organizations