FOUNDATION FOR MORAL LAW FIGHTS TO PROTECT PASTORAL HOUSING ALLOWANCE IN ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE CHALLENGE
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MONTGOMERY, AL: The Foundation for Moral Law (“the Foundation”), an Alabama-based nonprofit that fights for religious liberty, filed an amicus brief today in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals defending the constitutionality of the clergy housing allowance permitted under the IRS Code.
The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation brought an Establishment Clause challenge to the housing allowance law, claiming that it was unfair that ministers got the exemption while nobody else did. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin agreed and declared the housing allowance unconstitutional. The federal government appealed, and the Foundation for Moral Law filed an amicus brief in its support, arguing that the Seventh Circuit should look to the law and our history of religious freedom announced in Marsh v. Chambers to determine whether the law is constitutional or not.
Foundation President Kayla Moore noted, “The founding generation had a benevolent attitude toward Christianity and believed it was good for society. Historically, there have always been tax exemptions for ministers, and the framers of the First Amendment did not intend to change that.”
Foundation Attorney Matt Clark added: “Congress enacted the clergy housing allowance in 1954. In reliance on this law, many churches ceased providing parsonages to their ministers and relied on the housing allowance instead. Many pastors have relied on that law to purchase a home. Striking down the housing-allowance law would not only hurt the pastors who have relied on it but also convey the message that the federal government is hostile—not neutral—towards religion.”