Atheists Drop $1 Billion Church Suit


An atheist group has dropped its attempt to strip American pastors of their tax exemption for housing.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation will not appeal an appeals court decision that said the federal government is allowed to exempt priests, pastors, rabbis, and other religious instructors from paying taxes on the housing they receive, ending an eight-year legal battle. The suit threatened to cost clergymen $1 billion if successful, but Chicago’s Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the foundation argument that such a tax break violated the Constitution’s establishment clause. The three judge panel, citing previous Supreme Court rulings, found that, “Providing a tax exemption does not ‘connote sponsorship, financial support, and active involvement of the [government] in religious activity.'”

“Its principal effect is neither to endorse nor to inhibit religion, and it does not cause excessive government entanglement,” the court ruled unanimously in March.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation had until Thursday evening to appeal the suit to the Supreme Court, but allowed it to expire rather than challenge the ruling further. The foundation filed the suit after several officers attempted to have their own income exempted and argued they were discriminated against when they failed to qualify as a minister. Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said in an email to the Washington Free Beacon that the foundation stands by the merits of the suit. She blamed the make-up of the Supreme Court following President Trump’s appointments of Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh for the decision to not pursue the case further.

“We have full confidence in the legal merits of our challenge of the discriminatory pastoral housing allowance privileges,” Gaylor said. “We did not, however, have confidence in the current Supreme Court.”

The Appeals Court faulted the foundation for failing to provide historical evidence demonstrating that any tax break should be seen as a government endorsement of religion. State and local governments in the United States have been giving churches tax exemptions out of deference to their charitable missions, and the federal government began adopting such policies as early as 1802, according to the court.  more here

8 Comments on Atheists Drop $1 Billion Church Suit

  1. The churchs named in the suit have to immediately counter sue now for all costs borne by the churchs associated with this nuisance suit plus damage to their reputation along with a binding promise from The Freedom from Religion Foundation never to sue on these grounds again. Do It Now.

  2. The Freedom from Religion Foundation has a tv show on every weekend! They actively push agains’t religion in America, the country that was founded on religious freedom. WTF??? Why can’t people just leave other people alone?

  3. Why does a group like Freedom from Religion Foundation even bother to exist? They don’t believe in God, and that’s perfectly legal in the United States. No one is forcing them to acknowledge God, or go to church, or financially support any religious organization. But they spend an inordinate amount of time, effort and money filing legal challenges to anything that smacks of Christianity. (They don’t seem to attack Islam with any of the same fervor they exhibit against Christianity.)

    I don’t believe Santa Claus really exists (I may actually be wrong on this – don’t put me on the naughty list yet). I don’t believe an Easter Bunny exists. I believe Kwanzaa is a made up holiday. But no one is starting a foundation or filing lawsuits against shopping malls to remove Santa Claus from their Christmas decorations or outlaw delicious chocolate Easter bunnies.

    In my experience, FFR members do believe in a god – usually the power of the state. This is a stupid god to believe in – one which frequently leads to the death of millions of innocent people – but that is their god none-the-less. But I think that in reality, FFR members do believe in God, and need to stamp out any reference to God because it reminds them of what they are trying to deny.

  4. @Wyatt, because secularism is a religion and if it can’t destroy organized religion in its pursuit of converting the nation to its non-belief system, it will place an undue burden upon those who entities who actually practice a faith based belief system.


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