NLRB Trying to Impose Federal Labor Laws on Religious Universities

The first amendment has been widely interpreted as mandating the seperation of church and state, as have many successive court cases and tax codes that have sought to keep government out of people’s faiths and vice-versa.

However, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) thinks differently. Since this mandated legal separation prevents Catholic schools from complying with federal labor regulations, the NLRB came up with a plan to increase its pro-union clout in religious institutions:  ruling some schools aren’t religious enough to be exempt.

On May 26, the Chicago branch of the NLRB ruled that St. Xavier University, a small college founded by the Sisters of Mercy in Chicago, was “not sufficiently religious” to claim federal labor law exemptions. This is on the heels of a similar decision against Manhattan College in New York City, which was founded by the Christian Brothers. That case has gone to the national board for an appeal, which is widely expected to be denied.

The case involving the Chicago university is expected to make its way to the First District Appeals Court which resulted in victories in 2002 and 2008 for religious organizations. In fact one Supreme Court case, NRLB v. Catholic Bishops of Chicago (1979) established that any NRLB oversight of the school is equal to an inquiry into the religiousness of it, and is therefore unconstitutional. Helping out the cause of the university is Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer’s position that if a school declares itself a “religious educational institution”, that is all the government needs to know for it to be classified as such.   More at

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