Wednesday, December 19, 2012
The dispute between a ranch for troubled children adopted abroad and the Montana officials who want it either regulated or closed may come down to how a judge defines what a church is.
On one side, Ranch For Kids owner Joyce Sterkel says her boarding school in Eureka near the Canadian border should be free from state oversight because of an exemption in the law for ministries of local churches. She and the head of the Epicenter International Missions Ministry signed a memorandum of understanding in October 2011 making the ranch an “adjunct ministry” of Epicenter.
On the other side, a state Department of Labor and Industry board charges that Sterkel is hiding behind the religious exemption to skirt its fees and regulations. The regulators say Sterkel only entered into the adjunct ministry agreement after the board sent her a cease-and-desist letter for operating without a license.
Read more here.