The Freedom From Religion Foundation lost their earlier challenge but is taking another shot.
Same song…just another verse.
Interestingly, the FFRF press release includes a quote from your humble and plodding blogger:
“The manner in which our housing allowance has been used borders on clergy malpractice,” William Thornton, a Georgia pastor and blogger, told Forbes magazine in 2013. “A growing subset of ministers who are very highly paid and who live in multimillion dollar mansions are able to exclude hundreds of thousands of dollars from income taxation.”
The quote is accurate and is one that Peter Reilly, a Forbes blogger who has an interest in the Housing Allowance, carried several years ago. I stand by the quote. The idea of clergy excluding hundreds of thousands of dollars from income taxes on this basis is absurd and objectionable. I favor a cap on the amount just like the one that military personnel has. I don’t buy the arguments that a cap causes any church/state problem.
Joel Osteen and his wife were used for the photo in the FFRF news release and if they want to live in the Texas equivalent of The Biltmore House, they are free to do so. They shouldn’t get poor taxpaying, unordained saps to essentially pay for some of it, though. The law should be adjusted.
We will see where this one goes. Probably nowhere. FFRF’s position that no clergy should get this tax benefit. They would make no distinction between Joel Osteen’s mansion and my humble abode. As long as the law allows an amount effectively limited only by how expensive a house the ordained minister can secure, we will be in for criticism on this.
The FFRF will be a pain in the neck on this and/or other church/state issues until Jesus comes. After that, I’m not sure what their standing will be. We can pray for the best, though.