Universal Life Church Case Law
Phone: (614) 715-9048 Fax: (614) 715-9049
Email: info@ulccaselaw.com
ULC Case Law
1629 K Street NW, Ste 300
Washington, D.C. 20006

IRS Fourteen Points

What defines a church? This question has bedeviled tax courts for years. The IRS has adopted a list of 14 criteria set out in De La Salle v. United States. Commonly referred to as the “fourteen points test”, it is important to note that the judges in the case did not intend for there to be a minimum number of criteria an organization must meet in order to satisfy the definition of a “church” as enumerated in their opinions.

In applying the Fourteen Points analysis to determine whether a religious organization may properly be characterized as a church, the IRS considers whether the organization has the following characteristics:

  1. Distinct legal existence
  2. Recognized creed and form of worship
  3. Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
  4. Formal code of doctrine and discipline
  5. Distinct religious history
  6. A membership not associated with any other church or denomination
  7. An organization of ordained ministers
  8. Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed studies
  9. Literature of its own
  10. Established places of worship
  11. Regular congregations
  12. Regular religious services
  13. Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young
  14. Schools for the preparation of its ministers

Scholarly analysis of the Fourteen Points by Robert Louthian and Thomas Miller recognized that the determination of what defines a church cannot be made solely on the number of the Fourteen Points a church meets. To quote: “Given the variety of religious practice… Attempts to use a dogmatic numerical approach might unconstitutionally favor established churches at the expense of newer, less traditional institutions.”

The Monastery adheres to the Fourteen Points as we think it is better to err on the side of caution when dealing with the IRS as the 2010 Church and Non-Profit Tax and Financial Guide book recommends. This is not, however, a tacit endorsement of the exclusionary and discriminating character of the Fourteen Points.

Recent Posts

  • A lawsuit was recently initiated against the State of Ohio for refusing to allow people to change the gender marker on their birth certificates. Lawsuit Against Ohio’s Prohibition of Gender Changes on Birth Certificates 05/18/2018

    Lambda Legal, in combination with the American Civil Liberties (ACLU) of Ohio, recently initiated legal action against the state of Ohio for its policy that prohibits people from changing the gender marker on their birth certificates. Ohio, as well as Kansas and Tennessee, are the only states that decline to change gender designations even after Read More

  • A Tennessee bill that requires schools to prominently display the motto of “In God We Trust” is currently headed to the governor for his signature. Tennessee Passes “In God We Trust” Bill 05/04/2018

      A Tennessee bill that requires schools in Tennessee to prominently display the motto of “In God We Trust” is currently headed to the governor for his signature. This legislation, which is referred to as the National Motto in the Classroom Act, was passed by 81 of 99 members of the house. Prior to the Read More

  • Recently, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that religious beliefs do not permit employers to discriminate against transgender employees, finding that a violation of Title VII. Sixth Circuit Decides Influential Transgender Case 04/27/2018

    At the beginning of March, 2018, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled in the case of EEOC v. R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. that discrimination based on transgender status violates Title VII prohibitions against sex-based discrimination.   How the Case Arose This case was initiated when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Read More

  • A private religious school in Texas is arguing that it is exempt from anti-discrimination laws after a student was subjected to racist bullying. Recent Case Involves Bullying and Religion 04/13/2018

      A teenager recently initiated a legal action against a religious private school in Texas after the teenager experienced bullying of a racist nature. The student claimed that the school did not make any efforts to stop the bullying, but the school claimed that its religious doctrine makes it immune from legal actions in these Read More

  • Petitioners in Mississippi will have to wait to have their day before the U.S. Supreme Court, after their challenge to an anti-LGBTQ law was declined by the high court. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Mississippi Anti-LGBTQ Law 03/28/2018

    The United States Supreme Court recently refused to become part of a legal battle against the state of Mississippi regarding an anti-LGBTQ law. The law in question allows both private businesses and state employees to deny services to members of the LGBTQ community based solely on religious grounds. The law took effect on October 10, 2017 Read More

  • Read More