Start a Quote

Religious Expression Coverage for Your Church

As a church, your organization has the freedom to develop its religious practices based upon its doctrines and beliefs. However, there may be occasions when the practice of religion conflicts with a person’s individual interests, such as when a person outside the church with views antithetical to the church wishes to hold an event in a church building. When this occurs, individuals may claim emotional injury. One’s emotional distress can be caused by a number of factors. Therefore, it is difficult to determine how your organization can prevent every potential emotional injury liability claim.

Fortunately, there are steps your church can take to provide a level of protection. First, understand your rights as a church and the laws regarding religious exemptions in your state. Depending on the claim, the U.S. Constitution offers protection for religious organizations and their faith-based beliefs, while other claims may be protected by state law.

Second, review the church’s formal policies. Ensure the church’s beliefs and practices are formally outlined in the governing documents of the organization. During everyday operations, stay consistent and true to these governing documents and follow all provisions.

Clearly, there are many facets to consider when comparing your rights as a house of worship and the impact practicing those rights may have on an individual. To assist with this challenging subject and help prevent or reduce emotional injury liability claims, GuideOne has created a free informational e-book called Religious Expression and Your Church. The book addresses the topic of religious expression and what your church can do to help prevent itself from these claims.

Much of the concern over religious expression stems from the June 2015 Supreme Court ruling on same gender marriage. The e-book opens with an explanation of this ruling and what role the First Amendment and Freedom of Religion play in the court’s decision. To offer guidance in analyzing organization governing documents, the e-book also includes sample policies:

  • Sample Church By-Law Provision – Statement on Marriage and Sexuality;
  • Sample Church Facility Usage Policy Provision;
  • Sample Church Marriage Policy Provision;
  • Sample Church Membership Covenant Provision; and
  • Sample church Employment Handbook Provision.

Churches are encouraged to utilize these samples when reviewing their own governing documents and make adjustments where appropriate based on the church’s beliefs and practices. The final feature of the Religious Expression and Your Church e-book is three claim scenario examples.

A third step is to obtain insurance protection from claims being made for emotional injury. GuideOne Insurance now offers Religious Expression Coverage. This optional coverage features added benefits, including emotional injury liability and legal defense costs, and is available for a minimal annual fee. The claims scenarios included in the e-book describe situations in which this coverage could be helpful to the organization. Review these claims examples, and talk to your GuideOne agent for more information about the coverage. To locate a GuideOne agent near you, visit Find an Agent on

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.