ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr joined a 15-state coalition led by Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron in filing an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the First Amendment right of a Virginia church to define who is a minister under its own religious doctrine.  New Life in Christ Church is seeking Supreme Court review of a recent ruling by a Virginia state court that denied a tax exemption to the church’s parsonage based on the government’s interpretation of the church’s religious doctrine.

“This is another example of the threat to religious liberty and we will continue to defend the First Amendment,” said Carr. “We joined this coalition to urge the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the rights of religious organizations.”

In the brief, the States argue that the Virginia court’s decision violates the First Amendment rights of New Life in Christ Church by disregarding the church’s authority to define who is or is not a “minister” to its congregation. Historically, the U.S. Supreme Court has reserved the right to make ecclesiastical decisions and interpret religious doctrine to the faith community. As the Supreme Court has explained, “Courts are not arbiters of scriptural interpretation.”

Georgia joined the Kentucky led brief along with attorneys general in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah in filing the amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court on September 3, 2021.

The attorneys general amicus brief can be read here  .