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
Court Decisions applying the First Amemdment include:
UNITED STATES v. BALLARD,
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
EMPLOYMENT DIV., ORE. DEPT. OF HUMAN RES. v. SMITH,
494 U.S. 72 (1990)
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).
"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.
CHURCH OF LUKUMI
BABALU AYE v. CITY OF HIALEAH,
508 U.S. 520 (1993)
that government may not enact laws that suppress religious belief or practice
is so well understood that few violations are recorded in our opinions.
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.
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
(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:
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
1. Distinct legal existence
2. Recognized creed and form of
3. Definite and distinct ecclesiastical
4. Formal code of doctrine and
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
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:
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.
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