Jonathan D. Crumly, an allied attorney of the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly called the Alliance Defense Fund) and a specialist in religious liberty, addressed the PCA presbytery clerks and recording clerks at their recent conference. Crumly’s topic was Challenges to Religious Freedom in America.
According to Crumley, threats to religious liberty in the United States accelerated in the 20th century, when “natural law” was abandoned as the basis of the American legal system. In Crumley’s view, threats to the religious liberty of churches are not eminent; but they same can’t be said of Christian businesses or religious non-profits.
Crumly outlined several steps that churches should take to protect themselves. Among them, he included:
Reviewing the church by-laws. Specifically, he said the by-laws should incorporate a formal membership policy, including the procedure for disciplining and removing a member and for processing a members resignation. Although these matters are addressed in the PCA Book of Church Order, Mr. Crumley suggested they should also be addressed in the by-laws. In addition, the by-laws should include the religious grounds for limiting employment opportunities, a statement of the religious belief of the church regarding marriage, and identification of the churchs governing body as its sole interpreter of Scripture.
Adopting a facility use policy. This is particularly important in states and municipalities that have adopted statutes that prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual preference. This policy should also include a statement that connects the uses of the property to religious purposes.
Adopting ministry job descriptions specifying their religious nature. Crumly said contracts with employees should contain a particular clause that specifies this.
Additional information may be obtained by contacting Crumly directly at (770) 434-0310. He is also available to speak to groups on this and related topics. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Presbytery Clerk’s Conference was held December 6-7. The stated clerks office offers the conference annually to provide a report from the stated clerk, a forum for clerks to discuss issues related to their work, training for new clerks, and input from a speaker such as Mr. Crumly on issues facing the church.