Bowie, MD asked in Uncategorized for Maryland

Q: What is the definition of church and religious organization for Maryland? Massachusetts has defined church.

In this section a church shall mean a church or synagogue building dedicated to divine worship and in regular use for that purpose, but not a chapel occupying a minor portion of a building primarily devoted to other uses, and a school shall mean an elementary or secondary school, public or private, giving not less than the minimum instruction and training required by chapter seventy-one to children of compulsory school age.

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1 Lawyer Answer

Mark Oakley

  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: The term is defined differently for different purposes, and your question is not sufficiently narrow enough to give the context in which you would like the definition applied. For example, Maryland permits religious entities such as churches to incorporate as a religious corporation, and the term "church" has a specific definition for that purpose, limited to the formation and treatment of churches operating as a corporation or similar entity: " 'Church' means any church, religious society, or congregation of any sect, order, or denomination." Corporations and Associations Code, Section 5-301.

Other provisions generally address prayer or private meditation in public scholls, such as this section of the Education Code: "§ 7-104. Daily period of silent meditation. (a) Silent meditation.- Principals and teachers in each public elementary and secondary school in this State may require all students to be present and participate in opening exercises on each morning of a school day and to meditate silently for approximately 1 minute. (b) Praying or reading holy scripture permitted.- During this period, a student or teacher may read the holy scripture or pray."

Per § 7-108(d) and (e) of the Education Code, "Each county board may permit the use of public school facilities for religious or other lawful purposes"; however, "school facilities may be used only at times that will not interfere with regular school sessions or other bona fide school activities."

If there is some matter you are specifically concerned about, you need to frame your question much more specifically to that issue or concern.

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