Go Back   SZONE.US Forums > Current Events > News > Personal Liberty

Personal Liberty Bob Livingston provides you with a conservative, Christian view on life. Helping you live free in an unfree world. Delivering news on improving you health, boosting your wealth, and protecting your civil liberties."

Personal Liberty

Atheists Seek End To Clergy Home Tax Break

Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread
Unread 08.26.13, 03:37 PM
@PersonalLiberty @PersonalLiberty is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: 05.09
Posts: 21,843
Atheists Seek End To Clergy Home Tax Break

08.26.13 01:31 PM

MADISON, Wis. (UPI) — The U.S. Justice Department says in a legal filing leaders of an atheist group qualify for the same housing tax exemption priests receive.

The paradoxical position comes in response to a lawsuit by the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis., which seeks to end the parsonage tax break granted to priests, ministers, rabbis and other clergy by the U.S. government. The tax break allows them to claim part of their income as a tax-free housing allowance.

Annie Laurie Gaylor, who receives a $15,000 housing stipend from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, is suing the federal government because she has to pay taxes on that money while “ministers of the gospel,” as the law defines priests, do not.

In response, the federal government said rather than agree to end the parsonage exemption it could be extended to Gaylor because she is the leader of a religious movement — albeit one that does not believe in God.

Legal maneuvering aside, Gaylor told The (Nashville) Tennessean the government has missed the point of her lawsuit — not to mention the fundamental difference between her atheist group and a religious order.

“We are not ministers,” she said. “We are having to tell the government the obvious — we are not a church.”

But government lawyers and some scholars said the argument isn’t as cut and dried.

Taoism and Buddhism are recognized religions that don’t recognize a deity and their leaders are afforded the tax break. So belief in God, the government argues, can’t be the defining trait of a religious movement.

“Plaintiffs may not presume that a law’s reference to religion necessarily excludes beliefs that are specifically non-theistic in nature,” the government argued in a motion to dismiss the foundation’s suit.

Scholars agreed, atheist groups mirror religious groups in some ways. Phil Zuckerman, professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., said the government is partially correct atheist groups share some traits with organized churches.

He compared devout members of a religion to devout sports or music fans, noting they share much of the same behavior — common customs, a system of belief that elevates a star athlete or singer to a god-like level. But the comparison, Zuckerman said, breaks down when you consider whether sports fans really think an athlete has supernatural powers.

“Soccer fans don’t really believe that David Beckham was born of a virgin,” he said. “They don’t really believe Jimi Hendrix is a god.”

The lawsuit has not been resolved though Zuckerman said it’s unlikely a court will strike down the parsonage tax break.

Reply With Quote
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:19 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright 2007 - 20017 SZONE.US All rights reserved