Beckett: Pastors won after atheists lose appeal

Monday, March 18, 2019
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

pastor at pulpitChurches and ministers will not face an extra $1 billion in taxes every year.

That comes after a ruling against the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), the Wisconsin-based atheist group that sued over clergy housing.

The case is known as Gaylor v Mnuchin. At issue is whether the federal government should continue to offer a housing allowance for clergy.

Last week, the Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit rejected the atheists' challenge, ruling the tax exemption is constitutional.

Beckett attorney Luke Goodrich told OneNewsNow the housing allowance affects not just ministers but other professionals, too, yet the atheist group is attempting to come only after ministers.

TithingA post-ruling FFRF press release complains about a "growing subset" of ministers who take advantage of the housing allowance to live in “multi-million dollar mansions," citing that quote from the blog post of William Thornton, a retired Southern Bapist pastor.

Thornton, however, is aware of FFRF using his blog post. He has written that the housing allowance should include a cap and he cites wealthy mega-church pastors such as Joel Olsteen as an example. 

A 2016 blog post by Thornton points out that FFRF wants to exclude all pastors, not just wealthy ones such as Olsteen. 

cash 100-dollar bill"The bottom line is that if this lawsuit succeeds,” Goodrich said last year, “churches and ministers across the country face an extra $1 billion taxes in every year."

It's unknown whether FFRF will appeal.

Becket represented several Chicago-area religious leaders in this case.

In 2017, U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of FFRF.

Crabb is the same judge that ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional in 2010. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that decision in 2011.

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