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 pepperoni pizza is shown. Religious Rights Lawsuit Initiated After Student Forced to Eat Pepperoni Pizza 01/28/2022

    A former high school student who was a football player at McKinley High School in Canton, Ohio recently filed a lawsuit after he was forced to eat pepperoni pizza. Eating pork is against his family’s religious beliefs, so school officials violated his civil rights, the suit claims. The Basis of the Pepperoni Pizza Lawsuit The Read More

  • New Jersey recently passed a law to enshrine same-sex marriage rights into state law, after over a decade of efforts to do so. New Jersey Codifies Same-Sex Marriage Statute 01/25/2022

    A bill introduced in the winter of 2020 codifying same-sex marriage into New Jersey statute was only recently advanced past the New Jersey Assembly Judiciary Committee on a vote of 4 to 0. New Jersey’s Assembly Bill 5367 states that laws addressing both civil unions and marriages should be interpreted with gender-neutral intent. Since 2013, Read More

  • A federal judge will rule in a prayer lawsuit over whether an athletic association violated the first amendment rights of a Christian school. Federal Judge Will Rule in Cambridge Christian’s Prayer Lawsuit 01/21/2022

    Over five years later, a judge for a federal court is positioned to decide a prayer lawsuit regarding whether an Athletic Association in Florida unlawfully interfered with the First Amendment rights of a Christian school in Tampa after the Association banned the broadcast of a prayer that occurred during competition. During this championship football game, Read More

  • A Christian children’s home initiated legal action over a regulation that requires the agency to place children in same-sex couples' homes. Christian Children’s Home Initiates Legal Action Against Biden Administration Over Same-Sex Couples 01/18/2022

    A Christian children’s home located in Tennessee recently initiated legal action against the federal government over a regulation that requires the agency to place children in the homes of same-sex couples that are either in marriages or cohabiting.  The Children’s Home Involved in the Case The “Holston Home” is a nationally accredited Christian nonprofit located Read More

  • A prayer group at a West Virginia public school has drawn significant attention from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. West Virginia Prayer Group Accused of Religious Rights Violations 01/14/2022

    A prayer group at a West Virginia school has drawn significant attention from the Freedom from Religion Foundation. One woman claims that the school has ordered her daughter to participate in a Prayer Club meeting at West Virginia’s public school, Chapmanville Middle. The parent additionally claims the school’s principal instructed teachers to keep the girl Read More

  • Read More