10 Recent Reasons Pastors Have Called a Lawyer*

Written by Noel W. Sterett

1. The Mayor called and wants my sermons and emails.

 This October, attorneys with the Alliance Defending Freedom, an alliance of which Mauck & Baker is proudly a part, stepped in to defend pastors in Houston from subpoenas which were served on them by the mayor’s offense in an effort to intimidate them from opposing her legislation for “gender-neutral” bathrooms.

2. I was told I can’t tell students about Jesus on my local community college campus.

The college campus is increasingly becoming the most hostile place for Christians, the gospel, and free speech in general. Mauck & Baker has and continues to fight for the rights of those who seek to speak publically and share on the issues of the day

3. A former part-time church employee left the church and filed a wage claim for back pay for the hours he volunteered above and beyond his set hours.

 Mauck & Baker has helped many churches establish proper employment policies and resolve employment law issues and claims. 

4. Am I going to lose my housing allowance?

On November 13, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals threw out the lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation challenging the tax exemption for clergy housing. All housing allowances for Illinois clergy are therefore intact for 2014. Given the tenacity of FFRF, this matter is sure to come before the courts again. Mauck & Baker has worked with many churches to sort out employment issues, sales tax, and real estate tax exemption issues as well.

5. The Zoning Administrator said our church has been meeting ‘illegally’ for the last ten years and has to move.

On October 31, Mauck & Baker filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Mt. Zion Church after the congregation was told that it could no longer meet at the property it had been meeting at for over ten years. Within 14 days, Mauck & Baker secured a federal court order allowing the church to continue worshiping. 

6. Could you come and talk to those in the congregation who are interested in providing for the Church in their estate plans?

Some church members would like to leave an estate gift to their church but fail to take the proper steps to see that their wishes are set forth in an estate plan. Mauck & Baker has helped many people bless ministries through their estate planning. 

7. We’re bursting at the seams. Can you help us plan our expansion?

 Growth is great, but it comes with a lot of unforeseen problems. Having represented hundreds of churches, Mauck & Baker can help churches better steward the growth they are experiencing.

8. We’ve decided to leave the denomination.

 Theological and other differences sometimes lead to a split between a local congregation and the national denomination. Many times both the local congregation and the denomination lay claim to the church’s property. We have helped congregations in several denominations leave amicably while fairly allocating the property.

9. We would like to establish a Bible school.

In some states, like Florida and Texas Bible schools (college level) are easy to establish because the state rightly does not regulate. In Illinois, the state considers Bible college to be “part of their business.” We’re preparing a constitutional lawsuit to challenge that authority. Meanwhile, get a lawyer! 

10. One of our youth volunteers heard a child say they were being abused. What do we do?  

In Illinois, failure to report child abuse within 72 hours is a criminal offense. Most of the staff and sometimes the clergy are obligated to report the incident to DCFS with a few narrow exceptions. Mauck & Baker has worked closely with churches in the midst of crisis to comply with the law, identify actual abuse, who must report, and how to address the media when the news leaks. 

*The following statements are not actual statements of any of Mauck & Baker’s clients.

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