The Supreme Court of the United States has significantly broadened the scope of legal protections for religious employers against employment-related claims. The Court’s July 8, 2020 decision in Our Lady of Guadalupe Sch. Morrissey-Berru St. James Sch. v. Biel, clarifies and broadens the so-called “ministerial exception,” which forbids or excepts courts from intervening in employment-related disputes involving workers engaged in religious activities. This important legal protection promotes First Amendment religious freedom rights by avoiding secular courts’ interference with employment decisions that may involve religious aspects.
Is it time to re-open houses of worship for in-person religious services, despite the continued coronavirus pandemic? This question has sparked controversy and significant accompanying safety concerns against an ever-changing array of government orders and religious liberty lawsuits. How and when will in-person religious gatherings be safe again? Should houses of worship wait indefinitely to conduct in-person worship services? Or should they reengage with religious services – now, and perhaps step by step with specific safety measures?
On August 20, 2015, former Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law the “Youth Mental Health Protection Act”, the stated purpose of which is to "protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth from sexual orientation change efforts [SOCE], also known as conversion therapy.” The law, now codified at 405 ILCS 48/1, et seq. “Act”, provides that “[u]nder no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a person under the age of 18.” The fact that a provider may believe that such efforts are therapeutic, helpful to a patient, and otherwise good is of no legal consequence.