1. List nine (9) laws, or as many as possible if less than nine, concerning clergy that you have found by searching your nearest municipality laws. By municipality, we mean on the village or town level. If there are none, then tell us how you found that out.
HOUSTON MUNICIPAL CODE ARTICLE V. – SOLICITATION OF FUNDS FOR CHARITABLE PURPOSE
Sec. 36-72. – Unlawful solicitation.
It shall be unlawful within the corporate limits of the city:
(1)For any person, directly or through an agent or employee, to solicit funds unless such person has first obtained a certificate of registration from the director, as hereinafter provided.
(2)For any individual, as the agent or employee of another, to solicit funds unless his principal or employer has received a certificate of registration as hereinafter provided.
(3)For any person to solicit funds between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.
(4)For any person, directly or through an agent or employee, to solicit funds after the expiration of any certificate of registration issued as hereinafter provided.
(5)For the person registering or the agents or employees thereof to solicit funds for a purpose other than that set out in the registration statement upon which the certificate of registration was issued.
(6)For any person who solicits funds to represent, in connection with such solicitation of funds, that the issuance of a certificate of registration by the city constitutes an endorsement or approval of the purposes, means, or methods of such solicitation of funds by the city or any department, officer or employee thereof.
(7)For any person issued a certificate of registration hereunder to fail to file any financial statement required to be filed under this article.
(8)For any person to employ, suffer or permit a minor to solicit funds.
(9)For any person to use or expose any animal to hazardous conditions to solicit funds.
(Ord. No. 05-1346, § 1, 12-7-05)
Sec. 36-74. – Solicitation on public streets.
(a)Solicitation in roadways. Except as provided in section 36-75, it shall be unlawful for any person to stand in a roadway to solicit funds. It shall be unlawful for a minor to stand in a roadway for any purpose, including solicitation of funds, except as permitted by the traffic laws of the state.
(b)Requirements. It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit funds pursuant to a class A certificate unless the person:
(1)Properly wears a high visibility traffic vest provided by the director pursuant to rules and regulations promulgated therefor;
(2)Conducts the solicitation of funds only within 40 feet of an intersection controlled by a traffic signal that requires all traffic to come to a full stop;
(3)Solicits funds only while located on a shoulder, improved shoulder, curb or sidewalk adjacent to the roadway, excluding any median;
(4)Does not enter the roadway to solicit or retrieve funds; and
(5)Does not obstruct traffic or create a hazard to traffic or any other person.
(c)First aid requirement. It shall be unlawful for a person to solicit funds pursuant to a class A certificate where more than four individuals are also soliciting funds simultaneously at the same location unless a person certified by the American Heart Association or American Red Cross in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid is present at the location.
(d)Location. It shall be unlawful for a person to solicit funds pursuant to a class A certificate from a location not specified in the certificate.
(e)[Authority.] The director is authorized to promulgate such rules and regulations necessary for the implementation and administration of this section.
(Ord. No. 05-1346, § 1, 12-7-05)
Sec. 36-75. – Charitable solicitation by municipal employees and/or agents.
(a)No nonprofit corporation, group, or organization may engage, suffer or permit any employee or agent of the city to engage in a solicitation of funds on its behalf that requires the issuance of a class A certificate under this article unless such certificate has been issued to the nonprofit corporation, group, or organization in compliance with this article.
(b)No employee or agent of the city shall engage in a solicitation of funds on behalf of a nonprofit corporation, group, or organization that has not received a valid class A certificate issued pursuant to this article.
(c)An employee or agent of the city engaged in the solicitation of funds on behalf of a nonprofit corporation, group, or organization may solicit funds while standing in a roadway as authorized by Section 552.0071 of the Texas Transportation Code.
(Ord. No. 05-1346, § 1, 12-7-05)
Sec. 36-76. – Registration statement.
(a)In general. Any person who seeks to solicit funds for charitable purposes within the corporate limits of the city shall file with the director a registration statement, on forms provided by the director, containing the following:
(1)The name of the person registering to solicit funds for charitable purposes.
(2)Whether the person registering is an individual, partnership, corporation or association, and:
a.If an individual, his or her business or residence address and telephone number.
b.If a partnership, the names of all partners and the principal business address and telephone number of each partner.
c.If a corporation, whether it is organized under the laws of Texas or is a foreign corporation, the mailing address, business location, telephone number, and name of the individual in charge of the Houston office of the corporation, the names of all officers and directors or trustees of the corporation, and, if a foreign corporation, the place of incorporation.
d.If an association, the association’s principal business address and telephone number, if any, and the names and principal business or residence addresses and telephone numbers of all members of the association. However, if there are more than ten members, the person registering may alternatively list the names and principal business or residence addresses and telephone numbers of the officers and directors or trustees of the association. If the association is part of a multistate organization or association, the mailing address and business location of its principal headquarters shall be given, in addition to the mailing address and business location of its local office.
(3)A brief description of the charitable purpose for which the funds are to be solicited, and an explanation of the intended use of the funds toward that purpose.
(4)The names of all individuals authorized to incur expenses related to the solicitation or to disburse any proceeds of the solicitation.
(5)The name, mailing address and telephone number of each individual who will have organizational responsibility with respect to the solicitation of funds. If there are more than 20 such individuals, the person registering may alternatively list the 20 individuals with the principal organizational responsibility with respect to the solicitation of funds.
(6)The time period within which the solicitation of funds is to be made, giving the date of the beginning of solicitation and its projected conclusion.
(7)A description of the means and methods by which the solicitation of funds is to be accomplished, including whether such means and methods will include any solicitation of occupants of vehicles on public streets.
(8)The total amount of funds proposed to be raised.
(9)A projected schedule of salaries, wages, fees, commissions, expenses and costs that the person registering reasonably believes will be expended and paid in connection with the solicitation of funds or in connection with their disbursement, and an estimated percentage of the total projected collections which the costs of solicitation will comprise. These figures shall cover the entire time period during which the solicitation is to be made.
(10)The names of any cities outside of Harris County, Texas, in which the person registering has solicited funds for charitable purposes within the past five years, but in the event that the person registering has solicited funds for charitable purposes in more than five other cities, the person registering may list the five most populated cities in which it has solicited funds during the previous five years.
(11)A statement to the effect that if a certificate of registration is granted, such certificate will not be used as or represented to be an endorsement by the city or any of its officers or employees.
(12)As to each, if any, officer, director, trustee, partner, or any current agent or employee engaging in the solicitation of funds who within the past seven years has been convicted of (or been incarcerated for any conviction of) a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude, the name of the individual, the nature of the offense, the name of the state where the conviction occurred, and the year of the conviction.
(13)An explanation of the reasons, if the person registering is unable to provide any of the foregoing information, why such information is not available.
(14)The signature of an individual on behalf of the person registering. If the person registering is an individual, this is the applicant. If the person registering is a partnership, this is the partner charged with disbursing the funds solicited. If the person registering is a corporation or an association, this is its officer charged with disbursing the funds solicited. The individual signing the registration statement shall sign the statement and swear before an officer authorized to administer oaths that he or she has carefully read the registration statement and that all the information contained therein is true and correct.
(b)Class A certificate; additional requirements. Each registration statement for a class A certificate shall include the following additional information:
(1)Each location at which solicitation of funds is to occur; and
(2)The number of persons to be involved in solicitation of funds at each location.
(c)Class A certificate; use of city employee or agent; additional requirements. If the proposed solicitation is to include the use of any employee or agent of the city as provided in section 36-75 of this Code, the applicant shall also provide, in a form acceptable to the city attorney, proof of a current policy of commercial general liability insurance providing coverage against claims against the applicant and the city in the amount of at least $1,000,000.00 for any damages that may arise from the solicitation.
(Ord. No. 05-1346, § 1, 12-7-05)
(Houston Municipal Code, Chapter 36, Article 5)
Equal Rights Exemptions
Sec. 17-22. – Religious organizations and private clubs exemption.
(a)This chapter does not prohibit a religious organization, association, or society, or a nonprofit institution or organization operated, supervised, or controlled by or in conjunction with a religious organization, association, or society, from:
(1)Limiting the sale, rental, or occupancy of dwellings that it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose to persons of the same religion; or
(2)Giving preference to persons of the same religion, unless membership in the religion is restricted because of race, color, sex, national origin, familial status or disability.
(b)This chapter does not prohibit a private club not open to the public that, as an incident to its primary purpose, provides lodging that it owns or operates for other than a commercial purpose, from limiting the rental or occupancy of that lodging to its members or from giving preference to its members.
(Ord. No. 06-412, § 2(Exh. A), 4-26-06)
(Houston Municipal Code, Chapter 17, Article 1)
2. If there is a body of laws between the municipality laws and the state/provincial laws where you live, list nine (9) laws, or as many as possible if less than nine, concerning clergy, that you have found by searching this area.
3. List nine (9) laws concerning clergy that you have found by searching your state/provincial laws.
TEXAS CONSTITUTION: BILL OF RIGHTS
Sec. 4. RELIGIOUS TESTS. No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall anyone be excluded from holding office on account of his religious sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being.
Sec. 5. WITNESSES NOT DISQUALIFIED BY RELIGIOUS BELIEFS; OATHS AND AFFIRMATIONS. No person shall be disqualified to give evidence in any of the Courts of this State on account of his religious opinions, or for the want of any religious belief, but all oaths or affirmations shall be administered in the mode most binding upon the conscience, and shall be taken subject to the pains and penalties of perjury.
Sec. 6. FREEDOM OF WORSHIP. All men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their own consciences. No man shall be compelled to attend, erect or support any place of worship, or to maintain any ministry against his consent. No human authority ought, in any case whatever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion, and no preference shall ever be given by law to any religious society or mode of worship. But it shall be the duty of the Legislature to pass such laws as may be necessary to protect equally every religious denomination in the peaceable enjoyment of its own mode of public worship.
Sec. 7. APPROPRIATIONS FOR SECTARIAN PURPOSES. No money shall be appropriated, or drawn from the Treasury for the benefit of any sect, or religious society, theological or religious seminary; nor shall property belonging to the State be appropriated for any such purposes.
(The Texas Constitution, Article 1)
SUBCHAPTER B. REPORT OF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT; IMMUNITIES
Sec. 261.101. PERSONS REQUIRED TO REPORT; TIME TO REPORT. (a) A person having cause to believe that a child’s physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter.
(b) If a professional has cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected, or that a child is a victim of an offense under Section 21.11, Penal Code, and the professional has cause to believe that the child has been abused as defined by Section 261.001 or 261.401, the professional shall make a report not later than the 48th hour after the hour the professional first suspects that the child has been or may be abused or neglected or is a victim of an offense under Section 21.11, Penal Code. A professional may not delegate to or rely on another person to make the report. In this subsection, “professional” means an individual who is licensed or certified by the state or who is an employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state and who, in the normal course of official duties or duties for which a license or certification is required, has direct contact with children. The term includes teachers, nurses, doctors, day-care employees, employees of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services, juvenile probation officers, and juvenile detention or correctional officers.
(b-1) In addition to the duty to make a report under Subsection (a) or (b), a person or professional shall make a report in the manner required by Subsection (a) or (b), as applicable, if the person or professional has cause to believe that an adult was a victim of abuse or neglect as a child and the person or professional determines in good faith that disclosure of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of:
(1) another child; or
(2) an elderly person or person with a disability as defined by Section 48.002, Human Resources Code.
(c) The requirement to report under this section applies without exception to an individual whose personal communications may otherwise be privileged, including an attorney, a member of the clergy, a medical practitioner, a social worker, a mental health professional, an employee or member of a board that licenses or certifies a professional, and an employee of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services.
(d) Unless waived in writing by the person making the report, the identity of an individual making a report under this chapter is confidential and may be disclosed only:
(1) as provided by Section 261.201; or
(2) to a law enforcement officer for the purposes of conducting a criminal investigation of the report.
Sec. 261.103. REPORT MADE TO APPROPRIATE AGENCY. (a) Except as provided by Subsections (b) and (c) and Section 261.405, a report shall be made to:
(1) any local or state law enforcement agency;
(2) the department; or
(3) the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.
(b) A report may be made to the Texas Juvenile Justice Department instead of the entities listed under Subsection (a) if the report is based on information provided by a child while under the supervision of the Texas Juvenile Justice Department concerning the child’s alleged abuse of another child.
(c) Notwithstanding Subsection (a), a report, other than a report under Subsection (a)(3) or Section 261.405, must be made to the department if the alleged or suspected abuse or neglect involves a person responsible for the care, custody, or welfare of the child.
(Texas Constitution and Statutes, Family Code, Title 5, Chapter 261)
PROPERTY TAX CODE: EXEMPTIONS
Sec. 11.18. CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS. (a) An organization that qualifies as a charitable organization as provided by this section is entitled to an exemption from taxation of:
(1) the buildings and tangible personal property that:
(A) are owned by the charitable organization; and
(B) except as permitted by Subsection (b), are used exclusively by qualified charitable organizations; and
(2) the real property owned by the charitable organization consisting of:
(A) an incomplete improvement that:
(i) is under active construction or other physical preparation; and
(ii) is designed and intended to be used exclusively by qualified charitable organizations; and
(B) the land on which the incomplete improvement is located that will be reasonably necessary for the use of the improvement by qualified charitable organizations.
(b) Use of exempt property by persons who are not charitable organizations qualified as provided by this section does not result in the loss of an exemption authorized by this section if the use is incidental to use by qualified charitable organizations and limited to activities that benefit the beneficiaries of the charitable organizations that own or use the property.
(c) To qualify as a charitable organization for the purposes of this section, an organization, whether operated by an individual, or as a corporation, foundation, trust, or association, must meet the applicable requirements of Subsections (d), (e), (f), and (g).
(d) A charitable organization must be organized exclusively to perform religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes and, except as permitted by Subsections (h) and (l), engage exclusively in performing one or more of the following charitable functions:
(1) providing medical care without regard to the beneficiaries’ ability to pay, which in the case of a nonprofit hospital or hospital system means providing charity care and community benefits in accordance with Section 11.1801;
(2) providing support or relief to orphans, delinquent, dependent, or handicapped children in need of residential care, abused or battered spouses or children in need of temporary shelter, the impoverished, or victims of natural disaster without regard to the beneficiaries’ ability to pay;
(3) providing support without regard to the beneficiaries’ ability to pay to:
(A) elderly persons, including the provision of:
(i) recreational or social activities; and
(ii) facilities designed to address the special needs of elderly persons; or
(B) the handicapped, including training and employment:
(i) in the production of commodities; or
(ii) in the provision of services under 41 U.S.C. Sections 46-48c;
(4) preserving a historical landmark or site;
(5) promoting or operating a museum, zoo, library, theater of the dramatic or performing arts, or symphony orchestra or choir;
(6) promoting or providing humane treatment of animals;
(7) acquiring, storing, transporting, selling, or distributing water for public use;
(8) answering fire alarms and extinguishing fires with no compensation or only nominal compensation to the members of the organization;
(9) promoting the athletic development of boys or girls under the age of 18 years;
(10) preserving or conserving wildlife;
(11) promoting educational development through loans or scholarships to students;
(12) providing halfway house services pursuant to a certification as a halfway house by the parole division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice;
(13) providing permanent housing and related social, health care, and educational facilities for persons who are 62 years of age or older without regard to the residents’ ability to pay;
(14) promoting or operating an art gallery, museum, or collection, in a permanent location or on tour, that is open to the public;
(15) providing for the organized solicitation and collection for distributions through gifts, grants, and agreements to nonprofit charitable, education, religious, and youth organizations that provide direct human, health, and welfare services;
(16) performing biomedical or scientific research or biomedical or scientific education for the benefit of the public;
(17) operating a television station that produces or broadcasts educational, cultural, or other public interest programming and that receives grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting under 47 U.S.C. Section 396, as amended;
(18) providing housing for low-income and moderate-income families, for unmarried individuals 62 years of age or older, for handicapped individuals, and for families displaced by urban renewal, through the use of trust assets that are irrevocably and, pursuant to a contract entered into before December 31, 1972, contractually dedicated on the sale or disposition of the housing to a charitable organization that performs charitable functions described by Subdivision (9);
(19) providing housing and related services to persons who are 62 years of age or older in a retirement community, if the retirement community provides independent living services, assisted living services, and nursing services to its residents on a single campus:
(A) without regard to the residents’ ability to pay; or
(B) in which at least four percent of the retirement community’s combined net resident revenue is provided in charitable care to its residents;
(20) providing housing on a cooperative basis to students of an institution of higher education if:
(A) the organization is exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501(a), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, by being listed as an exempt entity under Section 501(c)(3) of that code;
(B) membership in the organization is open to all students enrolled in the institution and is not limited to those chosen by current members of the organization;
(C) the organization is governed by its members; and
(D) the members of the organization share the responsibility for managing the housing;
(21) acquiring, holding, and transferring unimproved real property under an urban land bank demonstration program established under Chapter 379C, Local Government Code, as or on behalf of a land bank;
(22) acquiring, holding, and transferring unimproved real property under an urban land bank program established under Chapter 379E, Local Government Code, as or on behalf of a land bank;
(23) providing housing and related services to individuals who:
(A) are unaccompanied and homeless and have a disabling condition; and
(B) have been continuously homeless for a year or more or have had at least four episodes of homelessness in the preceding three years; or
(24) operating a radio station that broadcasts educational, cultural, or other public interest programming, including classical music, and that in the preceding five years has received or been selected to receive one or more grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting under 47 U.S.C. Section 396, as amended.
(e) A charitable organization must be operated in a way that does not result in accrual of distributable profits, realization of private gain resulting from payment of compensation in excess of a reasonable allowance for salary or other compensation for services rendered, or realization of any other form of private gain and, if the organization performs one or more of the charitable functions specified by Subsection (d) other than a function specified by Subdivision (1), (2), (8), (9), (12), (16), or (18), be organized as a nonprofit corporation as defined by the Texas Non-Profit Corporation Act (Article 1396-1.01 et seq., Vernon’s Texas Civil Statutes).
(f) A charitable organization must:
(1) use its assets in performing the organization’s charitable functions or the charitable functions of another charitable organization; and
(2) by charter, bylaw, or other regulation adopted by the organization to govern its affairs direct that on discontinuance of the organization by dissolution or otherwise:
(A) the assets are to be transferred to this state, the United States, or an educational, religious, charitable, or other similar organization that is qualified as a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended; or
(B) if required for the organization to qualify as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(12), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, the assets are to be transferred directly to the organization’s members, each of whom, by application for an acceptance of membership in the organization, has agreed to immediately transfer those assets to this state or to an educational, religious, charitable, or other similar organization that is qualified as a charitable organization under Section 501(c)(3), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, as designated in the bylaws, charter, or regulation adopted by the organization.
(g) A charitable organization that performs a charitable function specified by Subsection (d)(15) must:
(1) be affiliated with a state or national organization that authorizes, approves, or sanctions volunteer charitable fundraising organizations;
(2) qualify for exemption under Section 501(c)(3), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended;
(3) be governed by a volunteer board of directors; and
(4) distribute contributions to at least five other associations to be used for general charitable purposes, with all recipients meeting the following criteria:
(A) be governed by a volunteer board of directors;
(B) qualify for exemption under Section 501(c)(3), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended;
(C) receive a majority of annual revenue from private or corporate charitable gifts and government agencies; and
(D) provide services without regard to the ability of persons receiving the services to pay for the services.
(h) Performance of noncharitable functions by a charitable organization that owns or uses exempt property does not result in loss of an exemption authorized by this section if those other functions are incidental to the organization’s charitable functions. The division of responsibilities between an organization that qualifies as a charitable organization under Subsection (c) and another organization will not disqualify the organizations or any property owned or used by either organization from receiving an exemption under this section if the collaboration furthers the provision of one or more of the charitable functions described in Subsection (d) and if the other organization:
(1) is exempt from federal income taxation under Section 501(a), Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as an organization described by Section 501(c)(3) of that code;
(2) meets the criteria for a charitable organization under Subsections (e) and (f); and
(3) is under common control with the charitable organization described in this subsection.
(i) In this section, “building” includes the land that is reasonably necessary for use of, access to, and ornamentation of the building.
(j) The exemption of an organization preserving or conserving wildlife is limited to land and improvements and may not exceed 1,000 acres in any one county.
(k) In connection with a nursing home or retirement community, for purposes of Subsection (d):
(1) “Assisted living services” means responsible adult supervision of or assistance with routine living functions of an individual in instances where the individual’s condition necessitates that supervision or assistance.
(2) “Charity care,” “government-sponsored indigent health care,” and “net resident revenue” are determined in the same manner for a retirement community or nursing home as for a hospital under Section 11.1801(a)(2).
(3) “Nursing care services” includes services provided by nursing personnel, including patient observation, the promotion and maintenance of health, prevention of illness or disability, guidance and counseling to individuals and families, and referral of patients to physicians, other health care providers, or community resources if appropriate.
(4) “Retirement community” means a collection of various types of housing that are under common ownership and designed for habitation by individuals over the age of 62.
(5) “Single campus” means a facility designed to provide multiple levels of retirement housing that is geographically situated on a site at which all levels of housing are contiguous to each other on a single property.
(l) A charitable organization described by Subsection (d)(3) that provides support to elderly persons must engage primarily in performing charitable functions described by Subsection (d)(3), but may engage in other activities that support or are related to its charitable functions.
(m) A property may not be exempted under Subsection (a)(2) for more than three years.
(n) For purposes of Subsection (a)(2), an incomplete improvement is under physical preparation if the charitable organization has:
(1) engaged in architectural or engineering work, soil testing, land clearing activities, or site improvement work necessary for the construction of the improvement; or
(2) conducted an environmental or land use study relating to the construction of the improvement.
(o) For purposes of Subsection (a)(2), real property acquired, held, and transferred by an organization that performs the function described by Subsection (d)(21) or (22) is considered to be used exclusively by the qualified charitable organization to perform that function.
(p) The exemption authorized by Subsection (d)(23) applies only to property that:
(1) is owned by a charitable organization that has been in existence for at least 12 years;
(2) is used to provide housing and related services to individuals described by that subsection; and
(3) is located on or consists of a single campus in a municipality with a population of more than 750,000 and less than 850,000 or within the extraterritorial jurisdiction of such a municipality.
(p-1) Notwithstanding Subsection (a)(1), the exemption authorized by Subsection (d)(23) applies to real property regardless of whether the real property is considered to constitute a building within the meaning of this section.
(q) Real property owned by a charitable organization and leased to an institution of higher education, as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, is exempt from taxation to the same extent as the property would be exempt if the property were owned by the institution.
(Texas Constitution and Statutes, Tax Code, Title 1, Chapter 11)
FAMILY CODE: CHAPTER 2 – THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP
Sec. 2.013. PREMARITAL EDUCATION COURSES. (a) Each person applying for a marriage license is encouraged to attend a premarital education course of at least eight hours during the year preceding the date of the application for the license.
(b) A premarital education course must include instruction in:
(1) conflict management;
(2) communication skills; and
(3) the key components of a successful marriage.
(c) A course under this section should be offered by instructors trained in a skills-based and research-based marriage preparation curricula. The following individuals and organizations may provide courses:
(1) marriage educators;
(2) clergy or their designees;
(3) licensed mental health professionals;
(4) faith-based organizations; and
(5) community-based organizations.
(d) The curricula of a premarital education course must meet the requirements of this section and provide the skills-based and research-based curricula of:
(1) the United States Department of Health and Human Services healthy marriage initiative;
(2) the National Healthy Marriage Resource Center;
(3) criteria developed by the Health and Human Services Commission; or
(4) other similar resources.
(e) The Health and Human Services Commission shall maintain an Internet website on which individuals and organizations described by Subsection (c) may electronically register with the commission to indicate the skills-based and research-based curriculum in which the registrant is trained.
(f) A person who provides a premarital education course shall provide a signed and dated completion certificate to each individual who completes the course. The certificate must include the name of the course, the name of the course provider, and the completion date.
(Texas Constitution and Statutes, Family Code, Title 1, Chapter 2)
FAMILY CODE: CHAPTER 2 THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP
Sec. 2.202. PERSONS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT CEREMONY. (a) The following persons are authorized to conduct a marriage ceremony:
(1) a licensed or ordained Christian minister or priest;
(2) a Jewish rabbi;
(3) a person who is an officer of a religious organization and who is authorized by the organization to conduct a marriage ceremony;
(4) a justice of the supreme court, judge of the court of criminal appeals, justice of the courts of appeals, judge of the district, county, and probate courts, judge of the county courts at law, judge of the courts of domestic relations, judge of the juvenile courts, retired justice or judge of those courts, justice of the peace, retired justice of the peace, judge of a municipal court, retired judge of a municipal court, associate judge of a statutory probate court, retired associate judge of a statutory probate court, associate judge of a county court at law, retired associate judge of a county court at law, or judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state; and
(5) a retired judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state.
(b) For the purposes of Subsection (a)(4), a retired judge or justice is a former judge or justice who is vested in the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan One or the Judicial Retirement System of Texas Plan Two or who has an aggregate of at least 12 years of service as judge or justice of any type listed in Subsection (a)(4).
(b-1) For the purposes of Subsection (a)(5), a retired judge or magistrate is a former judge or magistrate of a federal court of this state who is fully vested in the Federal Employees Retirement System under 28 U.S.C. Section 371 or 377.
(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), a person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony without authorization under this section. An offense under this subsection is a Class A misdemeanor.
(d) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly conducts a marriage ceremony of a minor whose marriage is prohibited by law or of a person who by marrying commits an offense under Section 25.01, Penal Code. An offense under this subsection is a felony of the third degree.
(Texas Constitution and Statutes, Family Code, Title 1, Chapter 2)
HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE: HOSPITALS
Sec. 241.153. DISCLOSURE WITHOUT WRITTEN AUTHORIZATION. A patient’s health care information may be disclosed without the patient’s authorization if the disclosure is:
(1) directory information, unless the patient has instructed the hospital not to make the disclosure or the directory information is otherwise protected by state or federal law;
(2) to a health care provider who is rendering health care to the patient when the request for the disclosure is made;
(3) to a transporting emergency medical services provider for the purpose of:
(A) treatment or payment, as those terms are defined by the regulations adopted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (Pub. L. No. 104-191); or
(B) the following health care operations described by the regulations adopted under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (Pub. L. No. 104-191):
(i) quality assessment and improvement activities;
(ii) specified insurance functions;
(iii) conducting or arranging for medical reviews; or
(iv) competency assurance activities;
(4) to a member of the clergy specifically designated by the patient;
(6) to a prospective health care provider for the purpose of securing the services of that health care provider as part of the patient’s continuum of care, as determined by the patient’s attending physician;
(8) to an employee or agent of the hospital who requires health care information for health care education, quality assurance, or peer review or for assisting the hospital in the delivery of health care or in complying with statutory, licensing, accreditation, or certification requirements and if the hospital takes appropriate action to ensure that the employee or agent:
(A) will not use or disclose the health care information for any other purpose; and
(B) will take appropriate steps to protect the health care information;
(9) to a federal, state, or local government agency or authority to the extent authorized or required by law;
(10) to a hospital that is the successor in interest to the hospital maintaining the health care information;
(11) to the American Red Cross for the specific purpose of fulfilling the duties specified under its charter granted as an instrumentality of the United States government;
(12) to a regional poison control center, as the term is used in Chapter 777, to the extent necessary to enable the center to provide information and education to health professionals involved in the management of poison and overdose victims, including information regarding appropriate therapeutic use of medications, their compatibility and stability, and adverse drug reactions and interactions;
(13) to a health care utilization review agent who requires the health care information for utilization review of health care under Chapter 4201, Insurance Code;
(14) for use in a research project authorized by an institutional review board under federal law;
(15) to health care personnel of a penal or other custodial institution in which the patient is detained if the disclosure is for the sole purpose of providing health care to the patient;
(16) to facilitate reimbursement to a hospital, other health care provider, or the patient for medical services or supplies;
(17) to a health maintenance organization for purposes of maintaining a statistical reporting system as required by a rule adopted by a state agency or regulations adopted under the federal Health Maintenance Organization Act of 1973, as amended (42 U.S.C. Section 300e et seq.);
(18) to satisfy a request for medical records of a deceased or incompetent person pursuant to Section 74.051(e), Civil Practice and Remedies Code;
(19) to comply with a court order except as provided by Subdivision (20); or
(20) related to a judicial proceeding in which the patient is a party and the disclosure is requested under a subpoena issued under:
(A) the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure or Code of Criminal Procedure; or
(B) Chapter 121, Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
(Texas Constitution and Statutes, Health and Safety Code, Title 4, Chapter 241)
CHAPTER 81. SEXUAL EXPLOITATION BY MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES PROVIDER
Sec. 81.001. DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
(1) “Mental health services” means assessment, diagnosis, treatment, or counseling in a professional relationship to assist an individual or group in:
(A) alleviating mental or emotional illness, symptoms, conditions, or disorders, including alcohol or drug addiction;
(B) understanding conscious or subconscious motivations;
(C) resolving emotional, attitudinal, or relationship conflicts; or
(D) modifying feelings, attitudes, or behaviors that interfere with effective emotional, social, or intellectual functioning.
(2) “Mental health services provider” means an individual, licensed or unlicensed, who performs or purports to perform mental health services, including a:
(A) licensed social worker as defined by Section 505.002, Occupations Code;
(B) chemical dependency counselor as defined by Section 504.001, Occupations Code;
(C) licensed professional counselor as defined by Section 503.002, Occupations Code;
(D) licensed marriage and family therapist as defined by Section 502.002, Occupations Code;
(E) member of the clergy;
(F) physician who is practicing medicine as defined by Section 151.002, Occupations Code;
(G) psychologist offering psychological services as defined by Section 501.003, Occupations Code; or
(H) special officer for mental health assignment certified under Section 1701.404, Occupations Code.
(3) “Patient” means an individual who seeks or obtains mental health services. The term includes a person who has contact with a special officer for mental health assignment because of circumstances relating to the person’s mental health.
(4) “Sexual contact” means:
(A) “deviate sexual intercourse” as defined by Section 21.01, Penal Code;
(B) “sexual contact” as defined by Section 21.01, Penal Code;
(C) “sexual intercourse” as defined by Section 21.01, Penal Code; or
(D) requests by the mental health services provider for conduct described by Paragraph (A), (B), or (C). “Sexual contact” does not include conduct described by Paragraph (A) or (B) that is a part of a professionally recognized medical treatment of a patient.
(5) “Sexual exploitation” means a pattern, practice, or scheme of conduct, which may include sexual contact, that can reasonably be construed as being for the purposes of sexual arousal or gratification or sexual abuse of any person. The term does not include obtaining information about a patient’s sexual history within standard accepted practice while treating a sexual or marital dysfunction.
(6) “Therapeutic deception” means a representation by a mental health services provider that sexual contact with, or sexual exploitation by, the mental health services provider is consistent with, or a part of, a patient’s or former patient’s treatment.
(7) “Mental health services,” as defined by this section, provided by a member of the clergy does not include religious, moral, and spiritual counseling, teaching, and instruction.
Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 573, Sec. 2.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1993. Amended by Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 1102, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 1420, Sec. 14.731, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.
Sec. 81.002. SEXUAL EXPLOITATION CAUSE OF ACTION. A mental health services provider is liable to a patient or former patient of the mental health services provider for damages for sexual exploitation if the patient or former patient suffers, directly or indirectly, a physical, mental, or emotional injury caused by, resulting from, or arising out of:
(1) sexual contact between the patient or former patient and the mental health services provider;
(2) sexual exploitation of the patient or former patient by the mental health services provider; or
(3) therapeutic deception of the patient or former patient by the mental health services provider.
Added by Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 573, Sec. 2.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1993.
Sec. 81.003. LIABILITY OF EMPLOYER. (a) An employer of a mental health services provider is liable to a patient or former patient of the mental health services provider for damages if the patient or former patient is injured as described by Section 81.002 and the employer:
(1) fails to make inquiries of an employer or former employer, whose name and address have been disclosed to the employer and who employed the mental health services provider as a mental health services provider within the five years before the date of disclosure, concerning the possible occurrence of sexual exploitation by the mental health services provider of patients or former patients of the mental health services provider; or
(2) knows or has reason to know that the mental health services provider engaged in sexual exploitation of a patient or former patient and the employer failed to:
(A) report the suspected sexual exploitation as required by Section 81.006; or
(B) take necessary action to prevent or stop the sexual exploitation by the mental health services provider.
(b) An employer or former employer of a mental health services provider is liable to a patient or former patient of the mental health services provider for damages if the patient or former patient is injured as described by Section 81.002 and the employer or former employer:
(1) knows of the occurrence of sexual exploitation by the mental health services provider of a patient or former patient;
(2) receives a specific request by an employer or prospective employer of the mental health services provider, engaged in the business of providing mental health services, concerning the possible existence or nature of sexual exploitation by the mental health services provider; and
(3) fails to disclose the occurrence of the sexual exploitation.
(c) An employer or former employer is liable under this section only to the extent that the failure to take the action described by Subsection (a) or (b) was a proximate and actual cause of damages sustained.
(d) If a mental health professional who sexually exploits a patient or former patient is a member of the clergy and the sexual exploitation occurs when the professional is acting as a member of the clergy, liability if any under this section is limited to the church, congregation, or parish in which the member of the clergy carried out the clergy member’s pastoral duties:
(1) at the time the sexual exploitation occurs, if the liability is based on a violation of Subsection (a); or
(2) at the time of the previous occurrence of sexual exploitation, if the liability is based on a violation of Subsection (b).
(e) Nothing in Subsection (d) shall prevent the extension of liability under this section beyond the local church, congregation, or parish where the current or previous sexual exploitation occurred, as appropriate under Subsection (d), if the patient proves that officers or employees of the religious denomination in question at the regional, state, or national level:
(1) knew or should have known of the occurrences of sexual exploitation by the mental health services provider;
(2) received reports of such occurrences and failed to take necessary action to prevent or stop such sexual exploitation by the mental health services provider and that such failure was a proximate and actual cause of the damages; or
(3) knew or should have known of the mental health professional’s propensity to engage in sexual exploitation.
(Texas Constitution and Statutes, Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Title 4, Chapter 81)
HUMAN RESOURCES CODE: PROTECTIVE SERVICES FOR ELDERLY PERSONS AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
SUBCHAPTER B. REPORTS OF ABUSE, NEGLECT, OR EXPLOITATION: IMMUNITIES
Sec. 48.051. REPORT. (a) Except as prescribed by Subsection (b), a person having cause to believe that an elderly person, a person with a disability, or an individual receiving services from a provider as described by Subchapter F is in the state of abuse, neglect, or exploitation shall report the information required by Subsection (d) immediately to the department.
(b) If a person has cause to believe that an elderly person or a person with a disability, other than an individual receiving services from a provider as described by Subchapter F, has been abused, neglected, or exploited in a facility operated, licensed, certified, or registered by a state agency, the person shall report the information to the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility for investigation by that agency.
(c) The duty imposed by Subsections (a) and (b) applies without exception to a person whose knowledge concerning possible abuse, neglect, or exploitation is obtained during the scope of the person’s employment or whose professional communications are generally confidential, including an attorney, clergy member, medical practitioner, social worker, employee or member of a board that licenses or certifies a professional, and mental health professional.
(d) The report may be made orally or in writing. It shall include:
(1) the name, age, and address of the elderly person or person with a disability;
(2) the name and address of any person responsible for the care of the elderly person or person with a disability;
(3) the nature and extent of the condition of the elderly person or person with a disability;
(4) the basis of the reporter’s knowledge; and
(5) any other relevant information.
(e) If a person who makes a report under this section chooses to give self-identifying information, the caseworker who investigates the report shall contact the person if necessary to obtain any additional information required to assist the person who is the subject of the report.
(Texas Constitution and Statutes, Human Resources Code, Title 2, Chapter 48)
PENAL CODE: OBSTRUCTING GOVERNMENTAL FUNCTION
Sec. 38.11. PROHIBITED SUBSTANCES AND ITEMS IN CORRECTIONAL FACILITY. (a) A person commits an offense if the person provides, or possesses with the intent to provide:
(1) an alcoholic beverage, controlled substance, or dangerous drug to a person in the custody of a correctional facility, except on the prescription of a practitioner;
(2) a deadly weapon to a person in the custody of a correctional facility;
(3) a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device or a component of one of those devices to a person in the custody of a correctional facility;
(4) money to a person confined in a correctional facility; or
(5) a cigarette or tobacco product to a person confined in a correctional facility, except that if the facility is a local jail regulated by the Commission on Jail Standards, the person commits an offense only if providing the cigarette or tobacco product violates a rule or regulation adopted by the sheriff or jail administrator that:
(A) prohibits the possession of a cigarette or tobacco product by a person confined in the jail; or
(B) places restrictions on:
(i) the possession of a cigarette or tobacco product by a person confined in the jail; or
(ii) the manner in which a cigarette or tobacco product may be provided to a person confined in the jail.
(b) A person commits an offense if the person takes an alcoholic beverage, controlled substance, or dangerous drug into a correctional facility.
(c) A person commits an offense if the person takes a controlled substance or dangerous drug on property owned, used, or controlled by a correctional facility.
(d) A person commits an offense if the person:
(1) possesses a controlled substance or dangerous drug while in a correctional facility or on property owned, used, or controlled by a correctional facility; or
(2) possesses a deadly weapon while in a correctional facility.
(e) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (b), (c), or (d)(1) that the person possessed the alcoholic beverage, controlled substance, or dangerous drug pursuant to a prescription issued by a practitioner or while delivering the beverage, substance, or drug to a warehouse, pharmacy, or practitioner on property owned, used, or controlled by the correctional facility. It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (d)(2) that the person possessing the deadly weapon is a peace officer or is an officer or employee of the correctional facility who is authorized to possess the deadly weapon while on duty or traveling to or from the person’s place of assignment.
(f) In this section:
(1) “Practitioner” has the meaning assigned by Section 481.002, Health and Safety Code.
(2) “Prescription” has the meaning assigned by Section 481.002, Health and Safety Code.
(3) “Cigarette” has the meaning assigned by Section 154.001, Tax Code.
(4) “Tobacco product” has the meaning assigned by Section 155.001, Tax Code.
(5) “Component” means any item necessary for the current, ongoing, or future operation of a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device, including a subscriber identity module card or functionally equivalent portable memory chip, a battery or battery charger, and any number of minutes that have been purchased or for which a contract has been entered into and during which a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device is capable of transmitting or receiving communications.
(6) “Correctional facility” means:
(A) any place described by Section 1.07(a)(14)(A), (B), or (C); or
(B) a secure correctional facility or secure detention facility, as defined by Section 51.02, Family Code.
(g) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.
(h) Notwithstanding Section 15.01(d), if a person commits the offense of criminal attempt to commit an offense under Subsection (a), (b), or (c), the offense committed under Section 15.01 is a felony of the third degree.
(i) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution under Subsection (b) that the actor:
(1) is a duly authorized member of the clergy with rights and privileges granted by an ordaining authority that includes administration of a religious ritual or ceremony requiring the presence or consumption of an alcoholic beverage; and
(2) takes four ounces or less of an alcoholic beverage into the correctional facility and personally consumes all of the alcoholic beverage or departs from the facility with any portion of the beverage not consumed.
(j) A person commits an offense if the person, while confined in a correctional facility, possesses a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device or a component of one of those devices.
(k) A person commits an offense if, with the intent to provide to or make a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device or a component of one of those devices available for use by a person in the custody of a correctional facility, the person:
(1) acquires a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device or a component of one of those devices to be delivered to the person in custody;
(2) provides a cellular telephone or other wireless communications device or a component of one of those devices to another person for delivery to the person in custody; or
(3) makes a payment to a communication common carrier, as defined by Article 18.20, Code of Criminal Procedure, or to any communication service that provides to its users the ability to send or receive wire or electronic communications.
(Texas Constitution and Statutes, Penal Code, Title 8, Chapter 38)
I should note that I have included this last law, not because I think it is important or even particularly relevant that ADF clergy not provide illegal substances to prisoners, but that it illustrates that in Texas, the law differentiates between alcoholic beverages and sacramental wine (as part of a religious ceremony that requires alcohol). Since ADF’s rites do not require alcohol, any infractions against alcoholic beverage use could be committed in an ADF ritual – such as serving alcohol to a minor.
4. List nine (9) laws concerning clergy that you have found by searching your national laws.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. (United States Constitution, Bill of Rights)
Jeopardizing Tax-Exempt Status
Political Campaign Activity: Individual Activity by Religious Leaders
The political campaign activity prohibition is not intended to restrict free expression on political matters by leaders of churches or religious organizations speaking for themselves, as individuals. Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy. However, for their organizations to remain tax exempt under IRC section 501(c)(3), religious leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official church functions. To avoid potential attribution of their comments outside of church functions and publications, religious leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization (IRS “Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations” 7).
Social Security and Medicare Taxes — Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA)
FICA taxes consist of Social Security and Medicare taxes. Wages paid to employees of churches or religious organizations are subject to FICA taxes unless the following exception applies:
– wages are paid for services performed by a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church in the exercise of his or her ministry, or by a member of a religious order in the exercise of duties required by such order (IRS “Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations” 18).
Books of Accounting and Other Types of Records
All tax-exempt organizations, including churches and religious organizations (regardless of whether tax-exempt status has been officially recognized by the IRS), are required to maintain books of accounting and other records necessary to justify their claim for exemption in the event of an audit (IRS “Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations” 21).
Ministerial services, in general, are the services you perform in the exercise of your ministry, in the exercise of your duties as required by your religious order, or in the exercise of your profession as a Christian Science practitioner or reader. Income you receive for performing ministerial services is subject to SE tax unless you have an exemption as explained later. Even if you have an exemption, only the income you receive for performing ministerial services is exempt. The exemption does not apply to any other income (IRS “Publication 517”).
Most services you perform as a minister, priest, rabbi, etc., are ministerial services. These services include:
– Performing sacerdotal functions,
– Conducting religious worship, and
– Controlling, conducting, and maintaining religious organizations (including the religious boards, societies, and other integral agencies of such organizations) that are under the authority of a religious body that is a church or denomination. (You are considered to control, conduct, and maintain a religious organization if you direct, manage, or promote the organization’s activities.) (IRS “Publication 517”).
Religious Organization Qualification
A religious organization is under the authority of a religious body that is a church or denomination if it is organized for and dedicated to carrying out the principles of a faith according to the requirements governing the creation of institutions of the faith (IRS “Publication 517”).
Services for nonreligious organizations.
Your services for a nonreligious organization are ministerial services if the services are assigned or designated by your church. Assigned or designated services qualify even if they do not involve performing sacerdotal functions or conducting religious worship. If your services are not assigned or designated by your church, they are ministerial services only if they involve performing sacerdotal functions or conducting religious worship (IRS “Publication 517”).
Services that aren’t part of your ministry.
Income from services you perform as an employee that aren’t ministerial services is subject to social security and Medicare tax withholding under FICA (not SECA) under the rules that apply to employees in general. The following aren’t ministerial services.
- Services you perform for nonreligious organizations other than the services stated above.
- Services you perform as a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church as an employee of the United States, the District of Columbia, a foreign government, or any of their political subdivisions. These services aren’t ministerial services even if you are performing sacerdotal functions or conducting religious worship. (For example, if you perform services as a chaplain in the Armed Forces of the United States, those services aren’t ministerial services.)
- Services you perform in a government-owned and operated hospital. (These services are considered performed by a government employee, not by a minister as part of the ministry.) However, services that you perform at a church-related hospital or health and welfare institution, or a private nonprofit hospital, are considered to be part of the ministry and are considered ministerial services.
(IRS “Publication 517”).
5. How do laws of your nation, state, or local area respond to Paganism and Neo-Pagan clergy? Are there laws that prohibit certain functions our clergy usually serve (such as divination, counseling, or conducting marriages or funerals)? Does your country implicitly or explicitly state that Neo-Pagans cannot have clergy, or that they cannot perform certain functions or receive similar rights as those from other religions?
I do not see any laws that would prohibit Paganism or Neo-Pagan clergy in any way. The laws all state that the clergy person must be ordained/licensed to perform clergy services by their religious organization, but there are no specifications that that licensing or ordination body must be Christian or Abrahamic. However, the Texas State Bill of Rights requires that all people running for public office profess belief in a Supreme Being (though that is not defined), which could be problematic for Neopagans wanting to run for office. I could not find any evidence of that clause being challenged in the Texas court system, however.
6. Looking at those laws listed in questions 1 – 4 and how they affect you, are there any specific laws that seem out of place, unfair, or unjust? What is the avenue for change to these laws, and do you see change to these particular laws as necessary?
I actually found all the laws listed in the various questions to be fair, with the exception of the Supreme Being clause in the Texas Bill of Rights – though I don’t see the ones for public solicitation always being followed in Harris County. I found the majority of the laws in Texas to be open and inclusive of non-Abrahamic faiths, including the marriage licensing and marriage counseling laws, and do not think that the law itself would be prohibitive or unjust.
7. How do you see these laws affecting how you serve your Grove, ADF, or the community as a whole?
TX bill of Rights items 4-7 deal with religious rights, which includes right to freedom of worship, both of which are very good, but the bill itself quotes God Almighty, which is a bit restrictive, and the fact that no public money can go to religious organizations, and public land can’t be used for religious purposes. This could be potentially problematic if an ADF group decided to hold regular rituals in a state park, but given our small size, and that you can take church retreats to state parks, I imagine this is more along the lines of “Don’t build a church on state property”.
Texas Statues for alcohol also clearly delineate between a religious service that includes alcohol and a religious service that requires it, so our Protogrove will need to be careful to ensure that we do not accidentally serve alcohol to anyone who is underage. This has actually already come up with a potential Protogrove member, and as such we have switched away from alcoholic Waters of Life to be sure that we do not fall outside the boundaries of the law, especially as we meet in a public park and not on private property.
Otherwise, I generally think that the laws will not have a huge effect on serving my Protogrove, ADF, and the community as a whole. Mandatory reporting laws in Texas are broad, and include people from many professions – not just clergy – and in general the laws in Texas are fair and inclusive to Neopagan practices.
8. What is the difference between pastoral counseling and other kinds of counseling, and does the law differentiate between these types? What sort of license do you require in your state in order to perform counseling of any type? Does divination fall into this sort of counseling?
Texas has a licensure board for Professional Counselors, and mandates that counseling of a psychiatric or medical nature be done by a licensed professional counselor. Spiritual counseling falls outside of this designation so long as the person in question “does not represent the person by any title or description as described by the definition of “licensed professional counselor” in Section 503.002 (Texas Constitution and Statutes, Occupations Code, Title 3, Chapter 503). This includes persons who are recognized religious practitioners, but the definition of the law only extends to Christian Science, and does not specify other types of counseling. Regardless of recognition, since professional counseling (and other types of licensure – like psychiatry, psychology, and nursing) is regulated in Texas, I will have to be careful to only provide religious and spiritual counseling, as well as references to the appropriate medical practitioners in cases where someone needs counseling services outside of a spiritual realm.
Nowhere in the Texas code does divination come up at all – in fact the word “divination” has no matches in either the Harris County ordinances or the Texas Statutes and Constitution. This matches with my experience, where I have seen several palm readers, card readers, and other such shops advertised prominently either in strip malls or in private homes, which would likely not be the case if divination services were in any way illegal in Texas. It would seem, simply by the lack of references, that spiritual counseling can include divination – or at least, nobody has filed a lawsuit and challenged that spiritual counseling should not include divination.
9. Describe the mandatory reporting laws in your area and how they affect you as a clergyperson. Explain the process you would go through to file a report if it were necessary.
According to Sec. 261.103 of the Texas Statutes, a report shall be made to:
(1) any local or state law enforcement agency;
(2) the department; or
(3) the state agency that operates, licenses, certifies, or registers the facility in which the alleged abuse or neglect occurred.
(Texas Constitution and Statutes, Family Code, Title 5, Chapter 261)
This reporting is mandatory for children, adults over 65, and adults with disabilities. There is no exemption in Texas for confidentiality to clergypersons, so this report would be mandatory for any suspected abuse, regardless of how I came by that knowledge.
As such, if I suspected that child (or elder) abuse was occurring, I would immediately call the Texas Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or, if that was not possible for some reason, contact the local law enforcement non-emergency number, presuming I was not witnessing violence happening in front of me, in which case I would simply call 911. I could also report the abuse at the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services website – https://www.txabusehotline.org.
Houston Municipal Code. Muniweb. Web. 30 March 2016. https://library.municode.com/HTML/10123/level2/COOR_CH36PUCHTR.html#TOPTITLE
Internal Revenue Service. “Publication 517 (2013), Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers.” Washington: GPO, 2013. Web. 30 March 2016. http://www.irs.gov/publications/p517/
Internal Revenue Service. “Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations: Benefits and Responsibilities Under the Federal Tax Law.” Washington: GPO, 2014. Web. 30 March 2016. http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf
Texas Constitutions and Statutes. Web. 30 March 2016. http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Index.aspx