Here are some important law-and-religion news stories from around the web:
- The Ninth Circuit denied an en banc rehearing of Biel v. St. James School; the 2-1 circuit court panel held that a 5th-grade teacher at a Catholic school is not a minister under the ministerial exception doctrine. Nine judges dissented from the denial.
- On Tuesday, the U.S. House Education and Labor Committee held a hearing regarding the “Do No Harm” Act, which is a bill designed to prevent the Religious Freedom Restoration Act from being used to override civil rights protections.
- A Christian grade school in Maryland filed suit after state officials revoked the school’s ability to participate in low-income scholarship programs because of the school’s Christian beliefs about marriage and sexuality.
- The U.S. State Department released the 2018 Report on International Religious Freedom that covers the status of religious freedom, reporting on U.S. government policies that affect religious belief and religious freedom both positively and negatively.
- The Supreme Court requested the Solicitor General to file a brief in Archdiocese of San Juan v. Feliciano, which poses the question of whether courts in Puerto Rico can access the assets of Catholic entities to satisfy pension obligations for the organizations’ employees.
- The D.C. district court dismissed a lawsuit brought by former members of an Ethiopian Orthodox church alleging that a group of current church members violated RICO to take control; the district court stated the First Amendment prevents hearing the claim, stating “whether someone may worship at a church is plainly a matter of ecclesiastical cognizance.”
- An online church based in Seattle has sued Tennessee, claiming the state’s law barring online-ordained ministers from officiating weddings violates the First Amendment by limiting the church’s ministers from freely exercising religion.
- After strengthening a ban on LGBTQ clergy members and same-sex marriages, the United Methodist Church, which is the largest mainline U.S. protestant denomination, approaches closer to a formal split within the church; one potential solution is to turn to legislatures or to allow different sects of the church to split off.