On 2002-MAY-22, Susan Rockwell, a lawyer, filed a lawsuit in U.S.
District Court in Concord NH, against the Roman Catholic dioceses of
Manchester and Boston. She claims that the church's refusal to consider
women for ordination to the priesthood violates her right to free expression
and religion. The suit asks that the church's tax exempt status be
revoked, and that the IRS be barred from renewing it until the church agrees
to ordain women.
The lawsuit reads, in part: ''It is well established in
federal case law that religious entities who discriminate against the civil
rights of individuals must forfeit their preferential tax status, even when
the discriminatory practice is based on 'sincerely held religious belief' if
it violates civil rights, public policy, the social norm and the community
conscience.'' In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered the cancellation
of the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University in Greenville SC,
because of its long-standing ban on inter-racial dating.
She commented: ''They
are not going to stop until it really hits them in the pocketbook. If they
have to choose between women priests or tax exempt status, they will
suddenly decide they got a revelation that women should be priests.''
There is a precedent for this suggestion. When the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-Day Saints was faced with the loss of its tax-exempt status
because of racism, they announced a revelation from God that said that
ordination of African-Americans into the priesthood would be allowed.
The implications of this lawsuit are vast. If Rockwell wins her case, the
LDS church, the Southern Baptist Convention
and many other conservative Christian, Jewish and Muslim groups could also
lose their tax-exempt status.
- Lawrence Morahan, "Vatican Lawsuit Liability Could Reach $1
Billion in US," CNSNews.com, 2002-MAY-22, at:
Copyright © 2002 by Ontario Consultants on
Latest update: 2002-MAY-23
Author: B.A. Robinson