Religious Organizations Can Exploit Suckers (Rosas v. The Corporation of the Catholic Church)

Am I the only one who cracks up when churches say, "Keep your government out of our affairs!" when a law of general applicability is applied to them; but who also sue to allow full access to public facilities and other generally-available fora?  Church and state should be kept separate when it benefits the church - and at no other time.  See Rosas v. The Corporation of the Catholic Church (here).

Anyhow, some chump was fooled into believing he'd burn in Hell if he didn't slave away for the Church.  Later he got hip and attempted to have the law applied to the Catholic Church.  Good luck with that, right?

He lost:

“The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.” Everson v. Bd. ofEduc., 330 U.S. 1, 18 (1947). The interplay between the First Amendment’s Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses creates an exception to an otherwise fully applicable statute if the statute would interfere with a religious organization’semployment decisions regarding its ministers. Bollard v. Cal.Province of the Soc’y of Jesus, 196 F.3d 940, 944, 946-47(9th Cir. 1999). 
This “ministerial exception” helps to preservethe wall between church and state from even the mundane government intrusion presented here. In this case, plaintiff Cesar Rosas seeks pay for the overtime hours he worked as a seminarian in a Catholic church in Washington. The district court correctly determined that the ministerial exception bars Rosas’s claim and dismissed the case on the pleadings. We have jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1291,1 and we affirm.
Nice.

By the way, this case will get plenty of media play.  It will probably go en banc.  The ministerial exception was incorrectly applied, and thus the case was wrongly decided.  Telling a church that is must pay overtime is not telling a church whom it may hire as ministers.

Telling the Catholic Church that is must ordain women because Title VII prohibits employment discrimination is quite different from saying, "You must pay overtime wages."  The counter-argument is that churches often encourage service.  Fine.  But requiring a church to pay overtime doesn't end volunteer work.

I volunteer.  I get paid nothing.  The wage-and-hour laws simply do not apply because I am a volunteer.   I have also worked internships - no pay, no complaints, no issues.

Demanding that the Catholic Church actually pay overtime wages thus has absolutely nothing to do with the ministerial exception.  The Church is still free to discriminate against women and gays.  The Church is still free to inspire and encourage a culture of volunteerism.  The Church may not, under the ministerial exception, refuse to pay overtime.

In any event, it's unlikely that today's panel will have the last word on this issue.

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