Numerous courts have addressed whether contracts requiring mediation and/or arbitration pursuant to the Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation of the Christian Conciliation Service®, a division of Relational Wisdom 360, are enforceable. The courts have also addressed whether proceedings according to such Rules are valid and enforceable.
The following courts have found that contracts requiring the parties to resolve disputes according to the biblical principles, and specifically according to a process set forth in the Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation are enforceable. Christian conciliation clauses have been consistently found to be valid and enforceable.
Enforceability of a clause:
Encore Productions, Inc. v. Promise Keepers, 53 F. Supp2d., 102 (D.Colo. 1999) held:
“Ordinary contract principles determine who is bound by written arbitration provisions. See Fisser v. International Bank, 282 F.2d 231 (2d Cir.1960). Encore and PK executed the Service Contract which contains an enforceable arbitration provision. The arbitration process between these corporations contemplates participation by their principals. By executing the Service Contract on behalf of Encore, Encore’s principals consented to participate in an arbitration governed by the Rules of Christian Conciliation.
Furthermore, although Encore is correct that courts cannot employ “religious organizations as an arm of the civil judiciary to perform the function of interpreting and applying state standards,” here the parties themselves agreed and consented to arbitration before Christian Conciliation. (Encore’s Objection to PK’s Motion to Dismiss or Stay Proceedings, p. 7). Although it may not be proper for a district court to refer civil issues to a religious tribunal in the first instance, if the parties agree to do so, it is proper for a district court to enforce their contract. Therefore, Encore is now precluded from challenging the enforcement of this valid agreement. See Elmora Hebrew Center, 593 A.2d at 731.
Encore voluntarily signed a contract containing a written arbitration agreement that clearly and expressly disclosed that arbitration would be submitted to Christian Conciliation. This manifests intent to be bound by Christian Conciliation’s decree and a knowing and voluntary waiver of their rights to pursue litigation in a secular district court. See id. And, significantly, in a letter written to counsel for PK on September 10, 1998, well after the date of the Termination agreement, counsel for Encore stated that Encore was “willing to discuss initiating Christian Conciliation as mandated under the contract.” (Exhibit 2 to PK’s Reply to Encore’s Response, emphasis added).”
Click here to read the full opinion of the Encore Productions, Inc. v. Promise Keepers case.
Easterly v. Heritage Christian Schools Case No. 08-1714 (USDC S.D. Ind. Aug. 26, 2009) held that a school employment contract containing a clause requiring the parties to submit their dispute to mediation and binding arbitration according to The Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation was enforceable.
Other cases upholding conciliation clauses referencing the application of The Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation or requiring faith-based arbitration include:
- Dayspring Community Church of Auburn, Inc v. Harvestime, Inc, Harvestime Ministries, Bradley Dean Oaster/ Cause No. 17D01-0505-PL-013/In the DeKalb Superior Court, Third Floor Courthouse, Auburn, Indiana, 46706/ 23rd Day of June, 2005/ Judge Kevin P. Wallace
- Woodlands Christian Academy v. Logan, Not Reported in S.W.2d, 1998 WL 257002, Tex.App.-Beaumont, May 21, 1998 (NO. 09-97-348-CV)
- Jenkins v. Evangelical Lutheran Church, 825 N.E. 2d 1206 (Ill. App. 2005).
- Kyer v. Teen Challenge of Florida, Inc. No. 8:07-cv-1824-T-23-TBM. Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2008 WL 1849024 M.D.Fla.,2008.
- Graves v. George Fox University, No. CBO6-395-S-EJL, August 16, 2007, Not Reported in F.Supp.2d, 2007 WL 2363372D.Idaho,2007.
- Answers in Genesis of Kentucky Inc. v. Creation Ministries Intern., Ltd. Civil Action No. 2008-53 (WOB) August 04, 2008. Slip Copy, 2008 WL 5657681 E.D.Ky.,2008.
- Weibust v. Woodlands Christian Academy, No. 09-10-00010-CV, 2010 (9th Court of Appeals, Tex)
- Spivey v. Teen Challenge of Fla., Inc., 122 So. 3d 986 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 2013)
Enforceability of Arbitration award:
Courts have also reviewed arbitration decisions, rendered according to The Rules of Procedure for Christian Conciliation and found the rulings to be valid and not subject to review or being over turned. Cases reaching this conclusion include:
- Encore Productions, Inc. v. Promise Keepers, 53 F. Supp2d., 102 (D.Colo. 1999) held:
Civil courts have only “marginal review” power over the decisions of arbitral bodies, secular and religious. See Presbyterian Church in United States v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 447, 89 S.Ct. 601, 21 L.Ed.2d 658 (1969). For example, inquiry into a religious determination may implicate fraud and collusion. These grounds parallel the limited basis on which courts will review the results of conventional arbitrations. See Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States of America and Canada v. Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 696, 713, 96 S.Ct. 2372, 49 L.Ed.2d 151 (1976) (not allowing court review of “arbitrariness” of a religious tribunal’s decision). Consequently, although Christian Conciliation may be characterized as a religious tribunal, any award in arbitration is subject to limited review by a secular court.
- Prescott v. Northlake Christian School, 244 FS2d 659 (United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana, 2002); .369 F.3d 491, 187 Ed (5th Cir. 2004); Civil Action No: 01-475, Section: “J” (2), Oct. 29, 2004.
- Presbyterian Church in United States v. Mary Elizabeth Blue Hull Memorial Presbyterian Church, 393 U.S. 440, 447, 89 S.Ct. 601, 21 L.Ed.2d 658 (1969).
- Serbian Eastern Orthodox Diocese for United States of America and Canada v. Milivojevich, 426 U.S. 696, 713, 96 S.Ct. 2372, 49 L.Ed.2d 151 (1976).
The legal, ethical and political issues related to faith-based arbitration are far from settled, however, as these articles show:
- The Ethics of Religious Arbitration
- Opinion: Making Religious Arbitration Work in America: The Jewish Experience
- A Higher Authority: Judicial Review of Religious Arbitration
- Faith-Base Arbitration Evaluated: The Policy Arguments for and Against Religious Arbitration in America