Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Did You Know Churches Don't Have to Allow Service Dogs?

Churches, and other religious organizations, are exempt from the Americans with Disabilities Act.  That means churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other religious places of worship do not have to allow disabled people to bring service dogs to services.  In fact, they don't have to allow disabled people at all - a church could legally say "No blind people allowed," for instance.  They usually don't do that, but they could, and it would be perfectly legal.

Some churches do refuse to allow service dogs, though.  As far as I know, it's a decision some churches make on an individual basis.  It's not like the Methodists or Presbyterians or Southern Baptists have all decided that their policy as a group will be to refuse to allow service dogs in church.  Some Methodist churches welcome service dogs, while some refuse to allow them to come in.

Now, churches do have to allow service dogs to come to things that are open to the general public.  Like, when I got food from the food pantry at a local church last week, that is open to the general public, so the ADA does apply to that.  They are required by law to let me bring my service dog for that.  If a church has a craft show, or AA meetings, or something like that, they must allow service dogs.  But they do not have to allow them for religious things like worship services, Sunday school, Bible study, etc.

In September, when the local United Methodist church is doing the fundraiser for Isaac, we will be attending the church service in the morning before the fundraising lunch.  I would like to practice with him first, going to a church service somewhere else, just so I know he can be on his best behavior for that length of time.  I think I'm going to ask Mike if his pastor would allow me to bring him to a service or two.  I have to get permission from the pastor, since the church does not have to allow service dogs.

If you attend church, do you know if they allow service dogs?  And if not, do you know why?

1 comment:

  1. I don't know why my current home church doesn't allow service dogs (other than two people being really nasty and saying she is a health hazard when she clearly isn't). There is one other church I know of in my city that doesn't allow service dogs. However, I've been to other churches, and they have allowed me to have her.