Nov 23 2013

“Equality Should Never Be Mistaken For Hostility”

“Some might view a rule against preferential treatment as exhibiting hostility toward religion, but equality should never be mistaken for hostility”—Judge Barbara B. Crabb, FFRF v. Geithner

When decades of deference
Yield to one’s preference
One can’t help but feel one’s virility!
As such, abrogation
Feels more like castration:
Equality feels like hostility!

When unequal treatment,
Alas, to defeat went,
It hampered one’s amiability
It saddens me greatly,
The things I’ve seen lately—
Equality feels like hostility!

The rules that one follows,
The treatment one swallows,
When seen as mere pawns, not nobility;
Old privilege relaxes—
We have to pay taxes?
Equality feels like hostility!

It feels like it’s malice;
One’s parsonage palace
Possesses no public utility?
Its worth, despite searches
Is merely the church’s?
Equality feels like hostility!

This horrible feeling
Means, clearly, appealing—
And winning, in all probability;
The free exercise clause
Will excuse them, because
Equality feels like hostility!

Churches of all stripes have, for decades, enjoyed various tax exemptions under US tax code, because reasons. Reasons. Reasons, dammit! As the sponsor of the 1954 bill in question, Rep. Peter Mack, argued :

Certainly, in these times when we are being threatened by a godless and anti-religious world movement we should correct this discrimination against certain ministers of the gospel who are carrying on such a courageous fight against this. Certainly this is not too much to do for these people who are caring for our spiritual welfare

Not every legal opinion is fun to read. This one is. This was the case where the best (perhaps only) argument the government had was to claim that the atheist co-presidents of the Freedom from Religion Foundation were… clergy, thus deserving of the tax break and in no position to sue. A simple look at Mack’s quote above is enough to show the silliness there, but the full opinion is a marvelous 43 pages of smackdown.

I’m sure it will be appealed, and I dread the Supreme Court’s ruling.

Oh, yeah… buy my book:
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  1. 1
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Love this one.

  2. 2


  3. 3
    Al Dente

    This was a summary judgement. In other words, the judge just read the briefs and found for the plaintiffs.

  4. 4

    Yeah, Al D– that is part of the beauty of it.

    It is the rare legal finding that is fun to read–Kitzmiller v Dover was great, and there was another that escapes my memory, other than it was Judge Griffith (I think, maybe Griffin) in another religion case–but this one was, and in part because it was a summary judgment, and the Judge was interpreting things in best light and still finding fault.

  5. 5

    You might also enjoy a judge bringing the hammer down on some crooked lawyers in the Prenda Law case(s).
    The story can be found at the Popehat blog — it even has Star Trek references.
    This is the order: http://www.popehat.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/PendaSanctionsOrder.pdf
    but the whole story is intriguing (and long) and might best be read during a snowy weekend.

  6. 6

    @Cuttlefish, #4: A nitpick, because I can’t help myself. The would be Kitzmiller v Dover.

    I too am dreading, though awaiting with great interest, the Supreme Court decision.

    [edit--fixed; thanks, Treb]

  7. 7

    Gee, that reminds me of what happens when I ask that images include alt text so us blind folk can figure out what’s going on in ‘em, hostile li’l ol’ me.

  8. 8

    Good old 1954 rears its ugly head…again!

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