Defining Church

July 26, 2011

Authored by: Nathan Boyce

In a previous blog , I described the revocation of church status of the Foundation for Human Understanding.  In that case, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals  discussed three different tests to determine church status.  These tests (naturally) intrigued me so gave up playing angry birds for three days to dedicate myself to researching all of the cases I could find that determine church status.  I determined that all of the different approaches that have been used to determined if an organization is a church (and there are more than 3) could all fit under one of the tests–the approach set forth in the 1980 District Court case: American Guidance Foundation, Inc. v. U.S.  In short, the test requires examining 14 Factors established by the IRS and requires at a minimum that the organization have “a body of believers or communicants that assembles regularly in order to worship.”  For anyone who finds this interesting or is suffering from insomnia, the full paper can be accessed here.