Former General Counsel | United Church of Christ (UCC)
Don Clark is the former General Counsel and principal legal advisor for the United Church of Christ (UCC), a Protestant religious denomination of nearly one million members and five thousand local churches. He recently completed service as Acting President of the Chicago Theological Seminary. In these capacities, Mr. Clark has in-depth experience with the religious freedoms and civil rights at issue. For example, Mr. Clark advised the United Church of Christ regarding its federal lawsuit General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Resinger, et al. (W.D. N. C.2014), which successfully challenged state statutes that had the impermissible effect of criminalizing religious ceremonies blessing same sex marriages and which ultimately led the court to declare the constitutional right to marriage equality in the state of North Carolina. Mr. Clark also has firsthand experience with Johnson Amendment and I.R.S. regulations governing political campaign activities of churches and not for profits, having successfully represented the UCC during an IRS church tax inquiry asserting that the appearance of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama at the denomination’s general synod constituted a violation of campaign prohibitions, the first time that the IRS challenged the tax-exempt status of an entire religious denomination. Don Clark has argued free exercise and establishment clause cases in state and federal courts throughout the country, including successfully arguing before the highest state court in Massachusetts. Among the recent awards and recognition he has received for his work in these areas, Mr. Clark received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Crain’s Cleveland Business magazine and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Rutgers University.