About Us

Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie’s Religious Institutions Group

Religious institutions regularly confront a variety of legal issues– similar to other nonprofit organizations. Religious organizations face legal problems arising from their employees and their reliance on volunteers. Legal problems frequently arise from buying, selling, renting, exchanging, zoning, and developing real property. Legal issues also regularly arise in conjunction with fund raising, borrowing money, and in determining tax obligations. They must deal with corporate governance issues, and full regulatory compliance concerns if operating internationally.

Religious organizations, however, are unique in several regards. They are called by faith to advance a religious mission. Their inspired callings result in unique polities and governance and, often, in values and practices that may be contrary to the dominant secular culture and the civil laws reflecting that culture. Religious institutions are called to serve the vulnerable and the broken which carries special liability risks. Pastors, rabbis, pastoral counselors, and others deal daily with highly confidential information involving their parishioners. Because churches, synagogues, religious schools, and ministries teach and preach particular beliefs and high ethical standards, departure from those teachings may give rise to scandal and more potent civil claims. In addition, the government routinely treats religious organizations differently from their secular counterparts by application of statutory exemptions, the First Amendment, state constitutional provisions, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, privilege statutes, and similar laws.

Attorneys in the Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Religious Institutions Group serve religious organizations with sensitivity to their distinctive characteristics and with knowledge and experience regarding their unique legal status. Our lawyers routinely advocate on behalf of religious entities in administrative settings and in state and federal trial and appellate courts from coast to coast. On matters of common interest, our attorneys frequently organize ecumenical coalitions to address legislative concerns and to prepare amicus briefs regarding cases of general concern pending in appellate courts. Our attorneys also consult with and advise general counsel serving a variety of religious institutions.

Our Religious Institutions Group also publishes The First Freedom, a free report on legal issues affecting churches, denominations, religious schools, ministries, and other religious organizations. If you would like to receive The First Freedom, please contact us.

The Religious Institutions Group provides experienced legal representation in the following areas:

 

  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Amicus Advocacy
  • Appellate Advocacy
  • Child Abuse Reporting
  • Child Care Regulation
  • Child Placement Agencies
  • Choice of Entity
  • Compensation, fringe benefits and benefits plans
  • Condemnation
  • Construction
  • Consulting Services
  • Contracts
  • Corporate Governance
  • Estate and Gift Planning
  • Export Controls
  • Federal Tax Issues
  • Financing
  • First Amendment
  • Handbooks and Policy Manuals
  • Human Resources
  • International Operations
  • Investigations
  • Land Use, Zoning, and Permitting
  • Litigation
  • Lobbying
  • Minister Misconduct
  • Political Activities
  • Real Property—Sales, Leases, Exchanges
  • Releases
  • Schools
  • Sexual Misconduct Policies
  • Tax Exemptions
  • Tax-Exempt Financing
  • Unrelated Business Income Tax
  • Volunteer Liability
Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP serves or has served as general, litigation, consulting, or First Amendment counsel for a wide variety of religious institutions, including:

 

  • The Archdiocese of Denver
  • Diocese of Colorado (Episcopal)
  • The Archdiocese of Los Angeles
  • The Archdiocese of Portland
  • Association of Christian Schools International
  • Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs
  • Catholic Charities of Denver
  • Centennial Community Church
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Colorado Christian University
  • Colorado Springs Christian School
  • Diocese of Cheyenne
  • Diocese of Colorado Springs
  • Diocese of Fargo, North Dakota
  • Diocese of Massachusetts (Episcopal)
  • Diocese of West Texas (Episcopal)
  • Diocese of Wyoming (Episcopal)
  • Evangelical Christian Credit Union
  • First United Methodist Church (Colorado Springs)
  • The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod
  • National Association of Evangelicals
  • New Life Church
  • Sisters of St. Francis of Colorado Springs
  • St. Benedict Monastery
  • Woodmen Valley Chapel
  • Yeshiva University

The following attorneys practice in this area: 

Articles

“Faithful Practice,” 2011 Colorado Super Lawyers® article on Charles Goldberg na L. Martin Nussbaum by Martin Kuz