January 2017 Church & State - January 2016

Supreme Court To Hear Religious Hospital Pension Cases

  AU admin

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear three important cases that could affect the pensions of millions of people who work at religious hospitals.

The cases – Dignity Health v. Rollins, St. Peter’s Healthcare System v. Kaplan and Advocate Healthcare Network v. Stapleton – deal with a federal law known as the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).

ERISA is designed to protect workers’ retirement savings by requiring employers that offer pension plans to meet certain basic standards, such as adequately funding the plan, informing employees about it and insuring it.

Houses of worship are exempt from ERISA under the theory that government should not meddle in the internal financial affairs of churches. However, in recent years, some religiously affiliated entities, such as hospitals, are claiming the ERISA exemption.

As a result, hundreds of thousands of employees of religiously affiliated hospitals, most of whom perform wholly secular duties, aren’t getting ERISA’s protections, and their pensions may be at risk.

Look for more on this case in the February issue of Church & State.


Americans United & the National Women’s Law Center file suit to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans.

Abortion bans violate the separation of church and state. Americans United and the National Women’s Law Center—the leading experts in religious freedom and gender justice—have joined forces with thirteen clergy from six faith traditions to challenge Missouri’s abortion bans as unconstitutionally imposing one narrow religious doctrine on everyone.

Join the Fight and Donate Today