Church Laws and Regulations


Ministers of the Eternal Communion are individually responsible for ensuring that their conduct does not run afoul of the law.  Indeed, the Doctrine of the First Order requires this.  


The following information may be useful as a starting point for your investigation into applicable government laws and regulations:


The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Civil rights Act of 1964 states:

To be a bona fide religious belief entitled to protection under either the First Amendment or Title VII, a belief must be sincerely held, and within the believer's own scheme of things religious. Civil Rights Act 1964 701 et seq., 717 as amended 42 USCA 2000-16)


Court Decisions applying the First Amemdment include:

322 U.S. 78 (1944)
'The law knows no heresy, and is committed to the support of no dogma, the establishment of no sect.' Watson v. Jones, 13 Wall. 679, 728. The First Amendment has a dual aspect. It not only 'forestalls compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship' but also 'safeguards the free exercise of the chosen form of religion.' Cantwell v. State of Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 303 , 60 S.Ct. 900, 903, 128 A.L. R. 1352. 'Thus the Amendment embraces two concepts,-freedom to believe and freedom to act. The first is absolute but, in the nature of things, the second cannot be.' Id., 310 U.S. at pages 303, 304, 60 S.Ct. at page 903, 128 A.L.R. 1352. Freedom of thought, which includes freedom of religious belief, is basic in a society of free men. West Virginia State Board of Education by Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 , 63 S.Ct. 1178, 147 A.L.R. 674. It embraces the right to maintain theories of life and of death and of the hereafter which are rank heresy to followers of the orthodox faiths. Heresy trials are foreign to our Constitution. Men may believe what they cannot prove. They may not be put to the proof of their religious doctrines or beliefs. Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others. [322 U.S. 78, 87]   Yet the fact that they may be beyond the ken of mortals does not mean that they can be made suspect before the law. Many take their gospel from the New Testament. But it would hardly be supposed that they could be tried before a jury charged with the duty of determining whether those teachings contained false representations. The miracles of the New Testament, the Divinity of Christ, life after death, the power of prayer are deep in the religious convictions of many. If one could be sent to jail because a jury in a hostile environment found those teachings false, little indeed would be left of religious freedom. The Fathers of the Constitution were not unaware of the varied and extreme views of religious sects, of the violence of disagreement among them, and of the lack of any one religious creed on which all men would agree. They fashioned a charter of government which envisaged the widest possible toleration of conflicting views. Man's relation to his God was made no concern of the state. He was granted the right to worship as he pleased and to answer to no man for the verity of his religious views. The religious views espoused by respondents might seem incredible, if not preposterous, to most people. But if those doctrines are subject to trial before a jury charged with finding their truth or falsity, then the same can be done with the religious beliefs of any sect. When the triers of fact undertake that task, they enter a forbidden domain. The First Amendment does not select any one group or any one type of religiion for preferred treatment. It puts them all in that position. Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 , 63 S.Ct. 870, 891, 146 A.L.R. 81. As stated in Davis v. Beason, 133 U.S. 333, 342 , 10 S.Ct. 299, 300. 'With man's relations to his Maker and the obligations he may think they impose, and the manner in which an expression shall be made by him of his belief on those subjects, no interference can be permitted, provided always the laws of society, designed to secure its peace and prosperity, and the morals of its people, are not interfered with.' See Prince [322 U.S. 78, 88]   v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 , 64 S.Ct. 438. So we conclude that the District Court ruled properly when it withheld from the jury all questions concerning the truth or falsity of the religious beliefs or doctrines of respondents.
494 U.S. 72 (1990)
The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, which has been made applicable to the States by incorporation into [494 U.S. 872, 877]   the Fourteenth Amendment, see Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 303 (1940), provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . ." U.S. Const., Amdt. 1 (emphasis added). The free exercise of religion means, first and foremost, the right to believe and profess whatever religious doctrine one desires. Thus, the First Amendment obviously excludes all "governmental regulation of religious beliefs as such." Sherbert v. Verner, supra, at 402. The government may not compel affirmation of religious belief, see Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U.S. 488 (1961), punish the expression of religious doctrines it believes to be false, United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78, 86 -88 (1944), impose special disabilities on the basis of religious views or religious status, see McDaniel v. Paty, 435 U.S. 618 (1978); Fowler v. Rhode Island, 345 U.S. 67, 69 (1953); cf. Larson v. Valente, 456 U.S. 228, 245 (1982), or lend its power to one or the other side in controversies over religious authority or dogma, see Presbyterian Church in U.S. v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 445 -452 (1969); Kedroff v. St. Nicholas Cathedral, 344 U.S. 94, 95 -119 (1952); Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese v. Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 696, 708 -725 (1976).
But the "exercise of religion" often involves not only belief and profession but the performance of (or abstention from) physical acts: assembling with others for a worship service, participating in sacramental use of bread and wine, proselytizing, abstaining from certain foods or certain modes of transportation. It would be true, we think (though no case of ours has involved the point), that a State would be "prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]" if it sought to ban such acts or abstentions only when they are engaged in for religious reasons, or only because of the religious belief that they display. It would doubtless be unconstitutional, for example, to ban the casting of "statues that are to be used [494 U.S. 872, 878]   for worship purposes," or to prohibit bowing down before a golden calf.
508 U.S. 520 (1993)
The principle that government may not enact laws that suppress religious belief or practice is so well understood that few violations are recorded in our opinions.
The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, which has been applied to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment, see Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 303 (1940), provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . ." (Emphasis added.) The city does not argue that Santeria is not a "religion" within the meaning of the First Amendment. Nor could it. Although the practice of animal sacrifice may seem abhorrent to some, "religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others in order to merit First Amendment protection." Thomas v. Review Bd. of Indiana Employment Security Div., 450 U.S. 707, 714 (1981). Given the historical association between animal sacrifice and religious worship, see supra, at 2, petitioners' assertion that animal sacrifice is an integral part of their religion "cannot be deemed bizarre or incredible." Frazee v. IllinoisDept. of Employment Security, 489 U.S. 829, 834 , n. 2 (1989). Neither the city nor the courts below, moreover, have questioned the sincerity of petitioners' professed desire to conduct animal sacrifices for religious reasons. We must consider petitioners' First Amendment claim.
The Free Exercise Clause commits government itself to religious tolerance, and upon even slight suspicion that proposals for state intervention stem from animosity to religion or distrust of its practices, all officials must pause to remember their own high duty to the Constitution and to the rights it secures. Those in office must be resolute in resisting importunate demands and must ensure that the sole reasons for imposing the burdens of law and regulation are secular. Legislators may not devise mechanisms, overt or disguised, designed to persecute or oppress a religion or its practices. The laws here in question were enacted contrary to these constitutional principles, and they are void.
Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal (04-1084)
___ U.S. ___ (2006)



Links to additional court decisions on religious liberty can be found at:

Some state Laws regarding religion and church:


Official Code Of Georgia
(a) Marriage licenses shall be issued only by the judge of the probate court or his clerk at the county courthouse between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 6:00 P.M., Monday through Saturday.
(b)(1) No marriage license shall be issued to persons of the same sex.
(2) If one of the persons to be married is a resident of this state, the license may be issued in any county of this state. If neither the male nor the female to be married is a resident of this state, the license shall be issued in the county in which the ceremony is to be performed.
(c) The license shall be directed to any judge, including judges of state and federal courts of record in this state, city recorder, magistrate, minister, or other person of any religious society or sect authorized by the rules of such society to perform the marriage ceremony; such license shall authorize the marriage of the persons therein named and require the judge, city recorder, magistrate, minister, or other authorized person to return the license to the judge of the probate court with the certificate thereon as to the fact and date of marriage within 30 days after the date of the marriage. The license with the return thereon shall be recorded by the judge in a book kept by such judge for that purpose.
. . ..
Official Code Of Georgia
(j) For the purposes of subsections (h) and (i) of this Code section, the term 'employment' does not apply to service performed:
(1) In the employ of:
(A) A church or convention or association of churches; or
(B) An organization which is operated primarily for religious purposes and which is operated, supervised, controlled, or principally supported by a church or convention or association of churches;
(2) By a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church in the exercise of his or her ministry or by a member of a religious order in the exercise of duties required by such order . . ..
Official Code Of Georgia
(10) 'Wages' means all remuneration paid including, but not limited to, the cash value of all remuneration paid in any medium other than cash, and shall be computed without any deduction of any amounts withheld by the employer for any reason and regardless of the terminology which the employer or employees may apply to the remuneration. The term does not include remuneration paid:
. . .
(C) For services performed by a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church in the exercise of his ministry or by a member of a religious order in the exercise of duties required by the order;


Link to various states' laws applying to religious and charitable entities at:,,id=129028,00.html


Tax Laws and Regulations:


Ordination as a Minister of the Church of the Eternal Communion (or of any other church) does not entitle one to any special tax treatment.  The Internal Revenue Service does, however, grant churches excemptions from various reporting and withholding requirements.


The term "church" is found, but not defined in the Internal Revenue Code.  The IRS considers the following 14 Points in determining the classification of an organization as a church:


1. Distinct legal existence

2. Recognized creed and form of worship

3. Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government

4. Formal code of doctrine and discipline

5. Distinct religious history

6. Membership not associated with any other church or denomination

7. Organization of ordained ministers

8. Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of studies

9. Literature of its own

10. Established places of worship

11. Regular congregations

12. Regular religious services

13. Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young

14. Schools for preparation of its ministers


Depending upon how many of these points a new religious organization has or plans to have in the future, it may or may not be classified as a Church by the IRS. If a classification of Church is not made it is likely that the IRS would then make the classification of the new organization as a "religious organization" which may be tax-exempt also.
Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) applies to churces and other religious and charitable organizations:,,id=96099,00.html
The IRS publishes a tax guide for Churches at:
The IRS publication regarding qualification for tax-exempt status can be accessed at:



Feel free to email us any additional legal information that you believe would be useful to post here.


This information is not legal advice, and you should consult your own attorney if you are unsure of the law.




Copyright 2005-06, Church of the Eternal Communion, LLC (All Rights Reserved)