Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Amos

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Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v. Amos
| 483 U.S. 327 (1987)

Can the government accommodate religious exercise by exempting religious institutions from certain regulations? Or does accommodating religion with an exemption create an Establishment Clause violation? The Supreme Court confronts the tension between protecting religious exercise and avoiding government sponsorship of religion in Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints versus Amos.

Arthur Mayson worked as a building engineer for the Deseret Gymnasium, a nonprofit fitness facility operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. After sixteen years, he was fired for failing to adhere to the standards required for worship in its temples. Mayson and others brought a class-action suit against the church based on Title Seven of the Civil Rights Act of Nineteen Sixty-Four, which prohibits discrimination in employment based on religion. The church moved to dismiss the claim, relying on an exemption. Section Seven Oh Two enables religious employers to make employment decisions on the basis of religion. The exemption, which originally extended to the employer’s religious activities, was later amended to cover the employer’s secular activities as well.

The district court determined that Mayson’s work at the gym involved secular activities. Further, the district court held that applying the exemption to a religious organization’s secular nonprofit activities would violate the Establishment Clause. The district court granted judgment for Mayson, and the church appealed to the Supreme Court.

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