Scotties Toy Box

March 16, 2019

Appeals Court: Tax-Free Housing for Faith Leaders (But Not Atheists) is Legal

Filed under: Atheism, Bigotry, Harm, News, Political, Questions, Reason, Religion — Scottie @ 07:04

https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/03/15/appeals-court-tax-free-housing-for-faith-leaders-but-not-atheists-is-legal/

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has lost a major legal battle in its effort to stop the government from giving religious leaders a huge unconstitutional tax break.

FFRF is, not surprisingly, upset with the decision.

Reacts FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, one of the plaintiffs: “The housing allowance is so clearly a handout to churches and clergy, and it so clearly shows preferential treatment and discriminating in favor of ministers.”

… “It’s an injustice not just to us, but to taxpayers who have to pay more than their share, because clergy pay less,” Gaylor says.

FFRF could always ask the full Seventh Circuit to look at this case again, but the Seventh Circuit is an overwhelmingly conservative court, with only two of the 14 judges appointed by Democratic presidents. Appealing to the Supreme Court is both a long shot (in terms of them even looking at the case) and a tough case to win, given the Court’s makeup. Furthermore, this isn’t a case where two appeals courts have said two different things, so the Supreme Court would likely say there’s no reason for them to get involved.

This case was always an uphill climb, legally speaking, but FFRF always had a good point: This law benefits religious leaders (including wealthy ones) with a perk that leaders of atheist organizations aren’t allowed to get. The government is actively discriminating against atheist groups with this law even if lawmakers never intended for that to be the case.

Unfortunately, the pro-religion rule will remain in place until the law ever changes.

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