Religious Institutions

Representative Cases

Religious Freedom Litigation

We advocate nationally on religious freedom issues, prosecuting and defending cases to protect religious organizations from unfair attacks, burdensome laws, and immoral mandates. We represent our clients in trials, on appeal, and as amicus counsel before the U.S. Supreme Court and other state and federal courts nationwide. Our advocacy includes the First Amendment right of church autonomy, the ministerial exception, free exercise, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and other constitutional and statutory protections. Our successes include:

Catholic Benefits Ass’n v. Sebelius, 24 F. Supp. 3d 1094 (W.D. Okla. 2014). Won permanent injunctions for the benefit of over 1,000 Catholic ministries and their respective insurers and third-party administrators against three federal departments seeking to impose immoral health plan coverage mandates; eliminating over $5.9 billion in fines accumulated against those; and collecting over $700,000 in legal fees from the federal agencies.

Knights of Columbus & In Defense of Christians, Against Christians in the Middle East (2016). Successfully persuaded U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to issue a genocide declaration for Christians in ISIS-controlled territories within Syria, Iraq, and Libya through preparation of a 277-page report cataloguing abuses and presenting legal arguments; this advocacy was the prequel to the U.S. House of Representatives voting unanimously in favor of this genocide declaration.

Won the longest church trial in Colorado history successfully vindicating First Amendment church autonomy rights and repossessing an historic $17 million Episcopal Church parish property unlawfully taken by a secessionist vestry.

Lindeman v. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 43 F. Supp. 2d 1197 (D. Colo. 2014). Won summary judgment in a childhood sexual abuse case for a denomination by establishing (1) there is no fiduciary relationship between a Sunday School teacher and a visiting student with regard to their off premises, after hours conduct, and (2) a church has no legal duty to supervise a Sunday School teacher’s after hours, off premises conduct.

Purdum v. Purdum, 301 P.3d 718 (Kan. App. 2013). Won dismissal by successfully invoking the First Amendment Establishment Clause and the First Amendment Doctrine of Church Autonomy to deprive court of subject matter jurisdiction over a husband’s defamation claim against his former wife based upon her sworn testimony before a confidential ecclesiastical tribunal.

Successfully quashed a subpoena seeking to force a Lutheran pastor to testify in a murder trial about confessional statements made to him by a parishioner during his “care of souls.”

Successfully pioneered the use of associational standing to acquire judicial relief for hundreds of ministries through a single lawsuit.

Preserving Religious Identity

Doctrinal drift due to cultural pressure is a risk that confronts many religious organizations. We help clients thoughtfully articulate their religious values and embed them within their legal and organizational structures. Building this “religious architecture” is a key component in any strategy to preserve religious identity and freedom.


We have conducted or assisted in hundreds of sexual misconduct, employment, and financial misconduct investigations, including international ecclesiastical and canonical investigations. Our aim is to help our clients ensure safe environments within their organizations, to root out misconduct, and, when the facts warrant it, to vindicate the falsely accused. The results of these investigations include better compliance, improved internal processes, and the long-term protection of organizational values. Our investigations include:

  • Clergy misconduct.
  • Director, employee, and volunteer financial malfeasance.
  • Misconduct by high-profile religious leaders.
  • Problem parishioners.
  • Vos Estis Lux Mundi investigations.


We assist in creating structures for ecclesiastical and corporate governance that are informed by religious belief and tradition and by civil-law considerations. Our services include:

  • Aligning religious governance and polity with civil-law structures.                           
  • Establishing and incorporating churches, ministries, and other religious entities, including as nonprofit corporations, corporations sole, and religious trusts and acquiring § 501(c)(3) status for them.
  • Drafting and revising governance documents such as articles of incorporation and bylaws, with particular attention to religious doctrine, denominational rules, and other religious matters.

Other Services

  • Employment issues such employment agreements, handbooks and manuals, job descriptions, discipline and terminations, and morally-compliant health plans.
  • Relief from land use regulations burdening religious exercise.
  • Conscience rights for religious hospitals and healthcare professionals.
  • Crisis communications and public relations.
  • Secessionist congregation disputes.
  • Faith-based dispute resolution such as through diocesan tribunals, faith-informed ADR, rabbinic tribunals.
  • Impact of pandemic and other public health regulations.
  • Summer camps and childcare licensing.
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