An atheist organization ended its lawsuit over a church housing tax allowance that if repealed would have reportedly created approximately $1 billion in new taxes on houses of worship.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation announced last Friday that they were ending their litigation, explaining that they allowed the time allotted for appealing to the United States Supreme Court to expire.
“We have full confidence in the legal merits of our challenge of the discriminatory pastoral housing allowance privileges,” stated FFRF.
“We did not feel the same confidence, however, in how the current Supreme Court would rule in our case, had we appealed. After ‘counting heads,’ we concluded that any decision from the current court would put the kibosh on challenging the housing allowance for several generations.”
Defenders of the allowance argued it made the tax code equitable for similarly situated workers whose housing was tied to their job. FFRF maintained that the clergy housing allowance was “unconstitutional” and a “handout,” claiming that it gives religious figures “preferential treatment.”
“It’s an indictment of the religious establishment that U.S. pastors feel no compunctions about not paying their fair share of taxes. Their charity begins at home,” they concluded.
Becket, a law firm that works on religious liberty cases, celebrated the news of FFRF ending their legal battle, which was known as Gaylor v. Mnuchin.
Becket argued that a repeal of the tax allowance would have placed heavy financial burdens on houses of worship that help service low-income communities.
Pastor Chris Butler of Chicago Embassy Church, who with the help of Becket filed an appeal in the case, called the result “a victory for all houses of worship that serve needy communities across the country.”
“I am grateful that my church can still be a home for South Side Chicago’s at-risk youth, single mothers, unemployed, homeless, addicted, victims of gang violence and others on the streets,” stated Butler, as quoted by Becket.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski