Court ruling could toss out parsonage allowance

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
 | 
Chris Woodward (OneNewsNow.com)

First Amendment (Bill of Rights)A court ruling threatens churches and other places of worship with nearly $1 billion in new taxes.

The ruling out of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin would end the parsonage allowance, a longstanding tax provision.

According to the ruling, the parsonage allowance "violates the Establishment clause because it does not have a secular purpose or effect and because a reasonable observer would view the statute as an endorsement of religion."

"This ruling breaks nearly 65 years of precedent and threatens churches across the country with nearly $1 billion in new taxes," says attorney Hannah Smith of religious law firm Becket, which is fighting the case. 

Talking about this case Monday on "Washington Watch with Tony Perkins," First Liberty Institute attorney Ken Klukowski said he was not surprised by the ruling, given that it's Judge Barbara Crabb and her far-left view of what the Constitution's Establishment clause means in the First Amendment.

"It says Congress should make no law respecting an establishment of religion," Klukowski explained. "I understand how she reached her decision. I think it's wrong, not because she didn't engage in a careful analysis, but because she fundamentally flips on its head what the Establishment clause is supposed to all be about."

In 2011, Judge Crabb ruled the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional and that decision was later overturned.

Because of Crabb's history of anti-religious bias, says Klukowski, there is hope that another judge will take the case on appeal and arrive at the opposite conclusion.

According to Smith, the Becket attorney, the federal tax code also covers secular employees who receive a housing allowance from an employer. So Crabb's ruling, she argues, is actually discriminatory against faith-based employers and an employee such as a pastor.  

Klukowski went on to state that whenever someone brings a lawsuit claiming an Establishment clause violation to Judge Crabb, it's always the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). That is the atheist organization at the center of this case involving the parsonage allowance.

"I'm actually encouraged about one aspect of this case and that is the Supreme Court had a seminal change of course moving back to the historical meaning of the Etablishment clause in its 2014 case, Town of Greece versus Galloway," Klukowski continued. "As cases like this get offered up to the Supreme Court, it gives the high court an opportunity to say, Yeah, you all are basing your decisions based on an aberration regarding an Establishment clause. We have now returned to the original, public meaning of that."


Editor's note: This story has been updated with comments from Becket senior counsel Hannah Smith.

Consider Supporting Us?

The staff at Onenewsnow.com strives daily to bring you news from a biblical perspective. If you benefit from this platform and want others to know about it please consider a generous gift today.

MAKE A DONATION

Comments

We moderate all reader comments, usually within 24 hours of posting (longer on weekends). Please limit your comment to 300 words or less and ensure it addresses the article - NOT another reader's comments. Comments that contain a link (URL), an inordinate number of words in ALL CAPS, rude remarks directed at other readers, or profanity/vulgarity will not be approved. More details

SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWSBRIEF

SUBSCRIBE

VOTE IN OUR POLL

Absent the cooperation of Congress, is President Trump taking the right approach to offset the negatives of ObamaCare?

CAST YOUR VOTE

GET PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

SUBSCRIBE

LATEST AP HEADLINES

NKorea says 'a nuclear war may break out any moment'
Trump says predecessors didn't honor fallen; response heated
Iraqi forces push into disputed city as Kurds withdraw
Somalia truck bombing toll over 300, scores remain missing
Trump, McConnell insist they're together for GOP agenda
Judge accepts Bergdahl's guilty pleas
New Jersey Muslim convicted of terrorist attack

LATEST FROM THE WEB

Here’s the connection between sexual predator Harvey Weinstein and Bill Clinton
Trump: I know how Bannon feels about Republicans
Kimmel on losing conservative viewers: 'I probably wouldn't want to have conversation w/them anyway'
Las Vegas guard Jesus Campos vanished after visiting urgent-care clinic, union leader says
Harvey Weinstein investigated by NYPD for alleged 2004 sexual assault

CARTOON OF THE DAY

Cartoon of the Day

REASON & COMPANY

NEXT STORY
Hymns and British culture

Keith and Kristyn GettyModern-day hymn writers Keith and Kristyn Getty were recently honored by Queen Elizabeth.