What is Religious Expression Protection Coverage?
As US citizens, we are blessed to share a national heritage that honors the rights of individuals and faith-based organizations to practice their faith freely. However, in recent decades, our legal and cultural landscape has shifted. Our nation’s perception of religious freedom has dramatically changed, and nearly every privilege enjoyed by churches and faith-based organizations has been challenged. Ministries increasingly find themselves in court defending their faith based practices and tax-exempt status.
Religious Expression Protection Coverage is designed to defend the faith based decisions and communications of your ministry. In addition, this type of insurance can also reimburse the costs of defending your tax-exempt status if threatened by an individual, organization, or government agency.
Understanding Religious Freedom
The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees every citizen the right to freely exercise their religion without interference from the government. This verbiage is foundational to many of the freedoms and privileges enjoyed by faith-based organizations.
The First Amendment
The First Amendment is comprised of two clauses that specifically pertain to religion.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
- The Establishment Clause: The first clause prohibits the government from establishing an official religion or showing preference for one religion over another.
- The Free Exercise Clause: The second clause guarantees individuals the right to practice their faith without government interference.
Together, these two clauses work to ensure individuals the right to practice their religion freely, without interference from the government or any other entity. However, the courts often must balance religious freedoms with other constitutional freedoms, and conflicts can arise.
Religious Freedom Protection Coverage reinforces these protections by defending your faith-based decisions, communications, and tax-exempt status.
What are examples of Religious Expression Protection claims?
These are a few Religious Expression Protection scenarios that we’ve seen ministries like yours face. While every situation is unique, these scenarios help illustrate the types of risks that this coverage can protect against.
Defending your faith-based communication
This coverage can provide a defense against allegations of emotional injury arising from your religious communications.
Example Claim: Your church develops a website and includes the text of Sunday sermons that have been presented over the past six months. One sermon presents Biblical concerns with respect to specific types of immoral behavior. Part of the text states that “unrepentant sinners will spend eternity in hell, separated from God.” An individual on the other side of the country reads the sermon online and becomes emotionally distraught. He sues the pastor and church for emotional distress.
Defending your faith-based discrimination
This coverage can provide a defense against allegations of emotional injury arising from your religious discriminatory acts.
Example Claim: Your church does not allow women to assist in the presentation of communion. Several women approach your governing board about changing its stance, pointing out that other churches within the denomination have permitted women to assist in serving communion. The governing board refuses to modify its position. The women make a claim of sexual discrimination and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Defending your faith-based activity
This coverage can provide a defense against allegations of emotional injury arising from your religious acts or expressions.
Example Claim: A non-custodial parent asks your pastor to baptize her child. When the custodial parent discovers that the child has been baptized, he becomes very upset and sues, alleging emotional injury on behalf of both the custodial parent and the child.
Defending your tax-exempt status
This coverage can provide reimbursement for reasonable and necessary defense costs and other reasonable tax-consultation expenses incurred by your ministry organization in response to a challenge to your federal tax-exempt status.
Example Claim: Your church invites a local assemblyman to speak on pro-life issues and is co-hosted by your pastor. A political opponent learns of the event, and informs the IRS. You receive a letter from an IRS auditor threatening your tax-exempt status for engaging in political activity.
In conclusion, Religious Expression Protection coverage is an essential protection for your ministry to defend your faith based decisions, communications and privileges.
Worried about the cost? A ChurchWest Ministry Insurance Advisor can bundle your Religious Expression Protection coverage with other ministry-specific coverages as part of a comprehensive insurance package. By bundling your coverage with ChurchWest, you can get the best protection at the most affordable price.
Click the “Get a Quote” button at the top of this screen to contact your local Ministry Insurance Advisor, or explore our other coverage pages to learn more about guarding your ministry’s finances and reputation.