Religious Institutions are unique: distinct faith communities with a broader mission in the world, whether it is ministry, evangelism, social services, healthcare, education, or otherwise. Religious institutions are protected by the First Amendment and other freedom-enhancing laws, and at Nussbaum Speir Gleason, we take these protections seriously. Our firm works with a wide range of religious organizations to uphold these protections while helping clients preserve their unique religious identities and values.
We represent churches and Chabad houses, dioceses and denominations, ministries and monasteries, religious hospitals, and faith-based businesses. Our presence in diverse faith communities gives us the perspective and experience necessary to help clients advance their religious mission in an often-hostile legal and cultural environment.
We advocate nationally on religious freedom issues, prosecuting and defending cases to protect religious organizations from unfair attacks, burdensome laws, and immoral mandates. We represent our clients in trials, on appeals, and as amicus counsel before the U.S. Supreme Court and other state and federal courts nationwide. Our advocacy includes the First Amendment right of church autonomy, ministerial exception, free exercise, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, and other constitutional and statutory protections.
Missional and doctrinal drift and cultural pressure are risks that every religious organization must confront. We help clients thoughtfully articulate their religious values and embed them within their legal and organizational structures. Building this “religious architecture” is a key component in any strategy to preserve religious identity and freedom.
We have conducted or assisted in hundreds of sexual misconduct, employment and financial misconduct investigations, including international ecclesiastical and canonical investigations. Our aim is to help our clients ensure safe environments within their organizations, to root out misconduct, and, when the facts warrant it, to vindicate the falsely accused. The results of these investigations include better compliance, improved internal processes and the long-term protection of organizational values. The types of investigations we have done, include:
Director, employee, and volunteer financial malfeasance
Misconduct by high-profile religious leaders
Vos Estis Lux Mundi investigation
We assist in creating structures for ecclesiastical and corporate governance that are informed by religious belief and tradition and by civil-law considerations. Our services include:
Aligning religious governance and polity with civil-law structures
Establishing and incorporating churches, ministries, and other religious entities, including as nonprofit corporations, corporations sole, and religious trusts
Drafting and revising governance documents such as articles of incorporation and bylaws, with particular attention to religious doctrine, denominational rules, and other religious matters
Employment issues such employment agreements, handbooks and manuals, job descriptions, discipline and terminations, and morally-compliant health plans.
Conscience rights for religious hospitals and healthcare professionals
Crisis communications and public relations
Secessionist congregation disputes
Faith-based dispute resolution such as through diocesan tribunals, faith-informed ADR, rabbinic tribunals
Impact of pandemic and other public health regulations
Summer camps and childcare licensing
We are located on the fourteenth floor of the First Bank Building in downtown Colorado Springs.