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Philadelphia—Finding Title VII’s exemption for religious institutions “is not limited to facilities where prayer takes place,” a magistrate judge has dismissed a suit against a Jewish community center brought by an evangelical Christian who claims she was fired because she attended a “Jews for Jesus” concert. In his 15-page opinion in LeBoon v. Lancaster Jewish Community Center, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jacob P. Hart rejected the plaintiff’s argument that the Lancaster Jewish Community Center (LJCC) is not entitled to the exemption because its purpose is “essentially secular,” and it is not affiliated with any synagogue. Instead, Hart found that courts have taken a broader view of the exemption, extending it to any institution that includes religion among its primary purposes. Plaintiff’s attorney J. Michael Considine Jr. of West Chester, Pa., argued in court papers that LJCC’s mission statement showed that it focuses on developing a Jewish community in Lancaster through “identity, education and cooperation.” As a result, Considine argued, LJCC’s mission “is not spiritual.” Hart disagreed, saying “this fails to take account of the fact that LJCC seeks to sustain a specifically Jewish community.” Minutes from the LJCC’s board meetings, Hart said, “reveal the pervasive Jewish orientation of the organization.”

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