What Religious Employers Should Know About The Cares Act

Caring About CARES Teleforum

Christian Legal Society and prominent legal experts held a teleforum on April 9, 2020, to explain what religious employers should know about the CARES Act and other emergency relief programs in response to COVID-19. (CLS held a subsequent webinar for churches and nonprofits in June 2020 on re-opening and also provided materials on other COVID-related religious freedom issues.)

To access the recorded event resources please scroll down. 

About the Caring About CARES Teleforum

In recent weeks, the United States government has earmarked trillions of dollars to help businesses and other employers weather the economic impact of COVID-19 and its resultant social distancing. Wading through the details and availability of relief in the CARES Act and other programs can be difficult. Moreover, certain important aspects of these programs are still being worked out and are in flux. 

The acceptance of government funds, even as a part of the CARES Act and other emergency relief, may come with significant restrictions on the use of the funds or may include conditions that impact how religious entities operate. Churches and religious nonprofits are working through important questions, including "What benefits are available to religious nonprofits and their employees?" "How can we take advantage of them?" "What are some of the risks associated with accepting government relief?" 

During the teleforum, a panel of prominent subject matter experts provided guidance to churches and religious nonprofits working through these issues. Speakers included Kim Colby, the Director of Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law and Religious Freedom; Stuart Lark, member at Sherman & Howard; Sally Wagenmaker, founding partner of Wagenmaker & Oberly; and Peter Smith, Christian Legal Society’s Chief Financial Officer. Reed Smith, Christian Legal Society’s Director of Litigation, moderated. The panel explained the changes in the law, what relief is available, the ways to apply for relief, and what strings may be attached to accepting financial relief. 


Sally Wagenmaker - Relief for Today: The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program

Peter Smith – From CARES Act to Acts of Caring: Practical Advice in Securing and Administering Emergency Relief

Stuart Lark and Kim Colby - The Cost of a Free Dinner: Managing Potential  Religious Restrictions in CARES Act Loans

Presentations and Helpful Documents