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 federal judge recently overruled the North Carolina Governor's religious service restrictions, allowing houses of worship to resume indoor services. Federal Judge Blocks North Carolina’s Religious Service Restrictions 06/10/2020

    A federal judge recently ruled that North Carolina religious leaders should be able to open their doors to their congregations, overruling religious service restrictions instituted by the state’s Governor to contain further spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. North Carolina’s Governor Roy Cooper has since stated that he does not plan to appeal the Read More

  • Trump's new regulations were directed primarily toward contraceptive coverage, but they also have implications for LGBTQ individuals in the country. Supreme Court Ruling on Contraceptive Coverage Could Influence LGBTQ Employment Issues 06/04/2020

    Last month, the United States Supreme Court heard several important cases regarding contraceptive coverage guaranteed under the 2010 Affordable Care Act. In 2017, the Trump Administration argued for the right to expand a previous exemption to the contraceptive mandate from entities with a religious objection, such as churches, to any entity with a moral objection. Read More

  • A high school in Kentucky announced that it will not offer a “Bible literacy” course due to concerns over teaching Bible-based electives in public schools. US Supreme Court Hears Two Critical Religious Rights Cases 05/27/2020

    Two recent cases (Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel) heard by the United States Supreme Court have dealt with the role of religious rights in this country. Both of these cases question if two Catholic school instructors qualify as “ministers,” and whether employment discrimination laws are therefore applicable. Read More

  • An appeals court recently struck down Jacksonville’s anti-discrimination law due to how it was adopted, but the city council is already working on a fix. Florida Appeals Court Strikes Down Jacksonville Anti-Discrimination Law 05/21/2020

    An appeals court in Florida recently struck down Jacksonville’s anti-discrimination law. The law bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in areas like public accommodation, employment, and housing. Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals reversed the decision made by a Duval County court to dismiss a challenge to the city’s human-rights Read More

  • Several prayer videos created by Christian army chaplains during the coronavirus pandemic were recently removed from an army brigade's main Facebook page. Army Chaplains’ Prayer Videos Removed From Facebook 05/13/2020

    Several prayer videos created by two military chaplains offering Christian messaging during the coronavirus pandemic were recently removed from Facebook following complaints that this content constituted “illicit proselytizing” of Christianity. This situation serves as an interesting example of how interested parties view the role of the establishment clause during the pandemic. How Debate Over the Read More

  • Read More