The ministerial exception is a doctrine born out of the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment that shields many religious institutions’ employment decisions from review. While the ministerial exception does not extend to all employment decisions by, or employees of, religious institutions, it does confer broad—and absolute—protection. While less controversy surrounds whether the Constitution shields religious institutions’ employment decisions to at least some extent, much more debate surrounds the exception’s scope, and perhaps most critically, which employees fall under it. In other words, who is a "minister" for purposes of the ministerial exception?



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