Since its inception in 1988, Sharpe Tillman & Melton has developed a specialty in representing religious organizations and their members. Religious organizations are unique in several regards. They are called by faith to advance a religious message. This calling results in unique polities and governance and, often, in values and practices that may be contrary to secular culture and the civil laws of that culture.
Religious organizations serve the vulnerable and the broken which carries special liabilities and risks. Pastors, rabbis, their associates, religious counselors, seminary professors and others deal with confidential information involving their parishioners, members and students. Because churches, synagogues, seminaries, parochial schools, and other religious organizations teach particular beliefs and high ethical standards, any departure from those teachings may give rise to scandal and potential civil liability. In certain cases, the actions or inactions of the religious organization is protected by this country’s constitution — a legal speciality of Sharpe Tillman & Melton.
Attorneys at Sharpe Tillman & Melton serve religious organizations and their members with great sensitivity to each one's distinctive characteristics and with knowledge and experience regarding their particular legal rights and status.
Along with representing religious organizations in legal battles, Sharpe Tillman & Melton has done a significant amount of advising these and other religious organizations how to avoid claims and lawsuits against them. The protective walls around churches and synagogues seem to have come down and lawsuits abound. Whether these claims and lawsuits are successful, religious organizations are spending far too much of their time, energy and resources defending against them. So, Sharpe Tillman & Melton has established the Religious Organization Legal Defense Association (ROLDA) to avoid legal issues through prevention.
ROLDA membership is designed to put member organizations in the best position possible to avoid being sued or to prevail if sued. (go to Benefits & Terms) ROLDA’s consultative services are meant to ward off claims and lawsuits that stem from everyday activities and exchanges within which lurk what we aptly call “Legal Landmines” (go to Legal Landmines).
Each year, a ROLDA attorney will conduct a comprehensive review of materials submitted and make appropriate preventive recommendations. Additionally, member organizations may contact a ROLDA attorney regarding policies and/or procedures changes, regarding questions about proposed staffing changes or physical plant changes, regarding liability insurance coverage, or heaven forbid, about ongoing legal matters. ROLDA wants to make legal consultations available to you on an ongoing basis to avoid legal issues through prevention. Please go to Application to get started as a member of ROLDA.