All Articles For VanEngen, Brian

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Previous article in this series: February 1, 2015, p. 211. On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme court issued a decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges,1 which dealt with the matter of the issuance of licenses for homosexual marriages. The decision was recognized as a landmark decision by those on both sides of the issue. Due to the importance of this decision, we will examine the court’s ruling closely to see how the court reached its decision, the meaning of the Court’s ruling, and the implications that the Court’s ruling has for our churches and schools. In...

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Previous article in this series: February 1, 2015, p. 211. In the last two installments in this series, we first looked at punishment of children and noted that corporal punishment such as spanking is still generally legal. We then looked at the juvenile court system and noted that, due to the different evidentiary standards in juvenile court and the reliance on reports of social workers and others, parents whose views differ from those prosecuting a case of alleged abuse may have a difficult time defending their actions. In this installment, we will look at the effect that changing views in...

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Previous article in this series: December 15, 2014, p. 138. In the last article under this rubric, we looked at the status of the law as it pertains to corporal punishment, or spanking, of children. The general rule is that parents are allowed to use corporal punishment as long as it is not excessive. “Excessive” is defined differently by the various courts and states, but as we saw in the last article, godly correction of children would generally not (and ought not) be excessive. The fact that this is still the status of the law is encouraging to Christian parents....

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Public debate over discipline of children and the use of corporal punishment erupted recently after newspapers were filled with stories covering allegations that a professional football star had abused his four-year-old-son. Adrian Peterson, a running back for the Minnesota Vikings, has stated he was disciplining the boy, and admittedly used a “switch” or small branch from a tree to spank his son. The state has charged Peterson with child abuse as a result of the incident. Some news reports have indicated that the boy was examined by a doctor after the incident and had multiple bruises and bleeding cuts, which...

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The Supreme Court recently handed down its decision in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., which involved a challenge to certain provisions of the Affordable Care Act based on religious grounds. This case provides insights into the future of religious freedom jurisprudence, as well as a look at the factors that aid in establishing a claim of impingement on religious freedom. Background To understand fully the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, one must look first at the history leading up to the decision. The First Amendment to the Constitution provides that...

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In past articles, we have looked at the trend in the law relating to society’s ever increasing acceptance of sins such as homosexuality. The law has changed from the point that homosexuality was illegal, to the point that homosexuals are a protected class. Individuals who refuse to provide goods or services to homosexuals on the basis of conscience may open themselves up to legal actions. The government also increasingly makes requirements that might conflict with the religious beliefs of citizens. In the past, lawmakers who were concerned about government imposition upon religion passed legislation aimed at protecting the freedom of...

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Recent headlines have carried news of allegations that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tar­geted certain conservative groups and held up or denied their applications for tax-exempt status. What are the implications if the tax-collecting agency of our nation would target our churches or schools? How do recent changes in the law make it more likely that our churches and schools will face increased scrutiny in the future? In order to understand these questions, it is important to understand how the current tax laws work in relation to non-profit entities. The general assumption is that any entity is subject to taxation....

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The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” We all recognize this language as the legal basis for the freedom of religion we enjoy in the United States. But does this protection extend to corporations? At first blush we might quickly answer “no,” since corporations are not like individual believers in that they do not worship God.

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Previous article in this series: May 15, 2012, p. 376.   In two previous articles under this rubric, we ex­amined some issues in employment law relating to discrimination claims as they protect individuals from religious discrimination and as our schools and churches can be affected by claims of discrimination. We also looked at some recent United States Supreme Court rulings that apply to religious organizations that act as employers. In this issue, we will look at the fac­tors that impact such cases and the measures that can be taken to preserve religious freedom in this area. We have looked at...

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Previous article in this series: February 15, 2012, p. 233. In our last article under this rubric, we looked at some of the laws relating to employment discrimi­nation, as well as some notable exceptions for reli­gious organizations. It was noted that the United States Supreme Court was preparing to hand down a decision pertaining to the ministerial exception. The ministerial exception, as you may recall, is the legal principle based upon the First Amendment to the United States Con­stitution, which keeps the government from interfering with the internal affairs of the church, especially in matters of doctrinal instruction. The Court...

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