Erik Stanley: Appeals Court decision shows need for churches to update their by-laws

ADF Attorney Erik Stanley writing at Speak Up Movement / Church: “The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision recently that demonstrates why churches should be updating their by-laws to protect against potential litigation that can threaten the constitutional right of the church to select its ministers free from government interference. The case was called Skrzypczak v. Diocese of Tulsa. In the case, the Diocese hired Ms. Skrzypczak to work as the Director of the Department of Religious Formation for the Diocese. … The Tenth Circuit described that the ministerial exception ‘preserves a church’s “essential” right to choose the people who will “preach its values, teach its message, and interpret its doctrines[,] both to its own membership and to the world at large,” free from the interference of civil employment laws.’ The Court explained that, ‘Although the doctrine usually comes into play in employment suits between an ordained minister and her church, it extends to any employee who serves in a position that “is important to the spiritual and pastoral mission of the church.”‘”