Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Universal Life Church Prevails In Pennsylvania Settlement Over Conducting Marriages

In Universal Life Church Monastery Storehouse v. McGeever, (WD PA, June 6, 2022), a Pennsylvania federal district court issued an Order based on a agreed settlement by the parties. The Order bars Allegheny County court personnel from telling members of the public that Universal Life Church ministers cannot solemnize marriages in Pennsylvania. the Order reads in part:

[A] government policy or practice that applies 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. § 1503 in a manner that denies, discourages, or otherwise chills the religious practice of the Universal Life Church and its ministers by proclaiming that Universal Life Church ministers have no legal authority to solemnize marriages under 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. Ann. §1503(a)(6) would violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution by (a) preferring certain religions over others in violation of the Establishment Clause, (b) burdening the Universal Life Church’s and its members’ religious practices in violation of the Free Exercise Clause, and (c) discriminating against the Universal Life Church and its members in violation of the Equal Protection Clause, to the extent the policy or practice treats Universal Life Church ministers less favorably than those similarly situated.

GoSkagit reports on the court order.