NY Times “The Holy Scripture shall be the supreme authority,” the rules of the proceedings state. By MICHAEL CORKERY and JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG
'For generations, religious tribunals have been used in the United States to settle family disputes and spiritual debates. But through arbitration, religion is being used to sort out secular problems like claims of financial fraud and wrongful death.
'Customers who buy bamboo floors from Higuera Hardwoods in Washington State must take any dispute before a Christian arbitrator, according to the company’s website. Carolina Cabin Rentals, which rents high-end vacation properties in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, tells its customers that disputes may be resolved according to biblical principles. The same goes for contestants in a fishing tournament in Hawaii.
'Religious arbitration clauses, including the one used by Teen Challenge, have often proved impervious to legal challenges.
'Scientology forbids its followers from associating with former members who have been declared “suppressive persons,” according to people who have left the church. But this year, a federal judge in Florida upheld a religious arbitration clause requiring Luis Garcia, a declared suppressive, to take his claim that the church had defrauded him of tens of thousands of dollars before a panel of Scientologists, instead of going to court.
'Pamela Prescott battled for years to prove that she had been unjustly fired from a private school in Louisiana. The crux of her case — which wound through arbitration, a federal appeals court and state court — was references in her employment contract to verses from the Bible.'