Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-684899dbb8-rbzxz Total loading time: 0.594 Render date: 2022-05-29T07:35:57.080Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

9 - Contracts

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 October 2015

Boris I. Bittker
Affiliation:
Yale Law School
Scott C. Idleman
Affiliation:
Marquette University, Wisconsin
Frank S. Ravitch
Affiliation:
Michigan State University
Get access

Summary

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about application of the general law of contracts to religious entities and religious individuals is how unremarkable that application is in most situations. In most situations, religious entities and individuals are bound to contracts they make in the same fashion as other entities and individuals. Thus, for example, if a religious entity contracts for the services of a general contractor to build a church or for the purchase of goods or a religious individual contracts to purchase goods, the same law applies as would apply in other contract cases. The fact that the entity or individual is religious would not affect the legal analysis of the contract in most of these general contract cases.

Courts also have been willing to enforce basic employment contracts between religious entities and individuals. As long as the court need not interpret a religious issue, the court may apply neutral principles of law, in these situations contract principles, to enforce the contract. Of course, as is the case with the law of employment contracts, specific performance is unlikely to be ordered. This is even more true in cases involving religious entities and clergy or teachers because of the general unwillingness of courts to interfere in core religious questions, such as who should serve as the clergy member of a church or teach religious school there. Thus, even if a contract violation is found, damages are more likely to be awarded in such cases.

As Chapter 11 explains, however, courts will not decide ecclesiastical matters in order to interpret an employment contract. For example, a court will not determine whether a minister has breached his or her moral duties as required by church teachings or whether the minister is religiously fit to serve in that capacity. To the extent that courts may interpret portions of a contract without answering ecclesiastical questions, they generally do so. For example, even if a court will not question whether there were valid religious grounds for termination, it may enforce the terms of a severance provision or notice provision. These issues are discussed further in Chapter 11.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×