ABA?publishes book on religious property disputes and the law


Daniel Dalton, co-founder of Detroit-headquartered law firm Dalton & Tomich PLC, and a national authority in religious property law, recently announced the publication of his book "Religious Property Disputes and the Law: House of God, Laws of Man," by the American Bar Association. Designed as a desk reference for pastors, lay church leaders and the attorneys who serve them, the book is available for purchase on the ABA website, www.americanbar.org.

A noted litigator with a masterful understanding of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), Dalton handles the business side of religious property for all faiths to protect the religious organization's right to use its property within the parameters of its spiritual mission. Since 2002, when he successfully represented a very small church against the City of Southfield, Dalton has worked with hundreds of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and almost all types of religious assembly use throughout the country to secure site plan approval or litigate claims in Federal Courts.

"Religious Property Disputes and the Law: House of God, Laws of Man," covers three focus areas. The first is trust clauses and dissolution of church affiliations, an area where Dalton and his firm have handled dozens of cases for Protestant churches, notably the United Methodist Church, but also the Orthodox Church of America, the Episcopal Church, the Presbyterian USA denomination, the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and Christian Reform Church (CRC), and others who have sought to peacefully and legally separate from their mainline church affiliation to form independent, non-denominational churches while retaining their property and other assets. The second focus of the book is intra-church property disputes, exploring the issues and resolution strategies of religious property disputes of churches not affiliated with a denomination. The third focus area is religious property disputes under RLUIPA. Of the 35 RLUIPA cases files nationally in 2020, Dalton and his team handled more than 35% of them, prevailing in 99% of the cases.

Dalton started his career representing local governments in land use and zoning disputes for nearly a decade. From there, he focused his attention on developers and commercial real estate, particularly land use and zoning, an area where he continues to practice and excel today.

Among his many legal honors, Dalton was named a "Go To Lawyer" for real estate in 2021 by the trade journal Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He is a multiple-year award winner of DBusiness Top Lawyers and Michigan Super Lawyers, recognized by both in the category of zoning and land use; he was also named to the 2010 class of Leaders in the Law by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. Dalton is regularly sought out by the media for stories on his high profile cases or topical religious land use issues and has been quoted inThe Atlantic, theWall Street Journal,The Washington Post, USA Today, Christianity Today,The Atlanta Journal-Constitutionand The Tennessean, among others.

In addition to "Religious Property Disputes and the Law: House of God, Laws of Man," Dalton, who previously served as chair of the ABA's Religious Land Use Section, is also the author of the award-winning "Litigating Religious Land Use Cases," published by the American Bar Association in 2014, with a second edition in 2016. He wrote the 2020 e-book about protocols for the United Methodist Church separation entitled, "What the Proposed UMC Separation Means for Your Church," and in 2017 he published the e-book, "Navigating the United Methodist Church Trust Clause." Both e-books are available on the firm's website, www.daltontomich.com.

Dalton earned a law degree from the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law and a Bachelor of Science degree from the Western Michigan University.