Faith Community Standards

Faith-based policies can help religious organizations strengthen their ability to carry out their activities in accordance with their Christian beliefs and in compliance with current legal developments.

In response to cultural shifts, the laws in this country are increasingly imposing on all organizations requirements that are contrary to certain religious beliefs.

Examples of such requirements include:

  • Employers are prohibited from making employment decisions based on whether an individual affirms or rejects religious beliefs important to the employer.
  • Employers are required to support practices with which they disagree on religious grounds.
  • Organizations are required to conduct activities in a manner that contradicts their beliefs.

Although many such laws exempt religious organizations, certain religious activities or organizations may not qualify for such exemptions if their religious character is not well documented.

Religious exemptions may be written or interpreted narrowly. In addition, government officials and courts applying religious exemptions typically assume that activities which appear to be too public, too secular, or too commercial are not religious and therefore not exempt. But religious institutions commonly engage in secular or commercial activities, as well as activities open to the public, specifically as a means of accomplishing their missions. If the religious motivation and distinctive religious elements of such activities are not clearly documented prior to a legal challenge, it is much more difficult to persuade a government official or a court that such activities are in fact part of a religious mission and as such should be exempt. 

Faith-based policies strengthen the ability of a religious organization to qualify for religious exemptions (including constitutional free exercise and free speech protections) with respect to its activities and policies.

Faith-based policies describe how a Christian organization exercises and expresses its religious beliefs by identifying the religious standards that apply to the organization’s activities and facilities. These policies link these standards (and their enforcement) to the organization’s distinctive expression and exercise of its religious beliefs. In so doing, the policy best positions the organization to claim religious exemptions for actions taken in accordance with these standards.   

Submitted by Sherman & Howard L.C.C