Lest you begin to think that the Obama administration is friendly to secularism, let me note that the DOJ is filing an appeal of the district court ruling that the parsonage allowance for religious non-profits but not secular ones is unconstitutional.
The Justice Department will appeal a federal court ruling last fall that allowing clergy to avoid paying taxes on a part of their income designated as a housing allowance violates the constitutionally mandated separation of church and state.
The department filed a notice of appeal with the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago Jan. 24, just days before the Jan. 27 deadline. It’s not yet clear what arguments government attorneys will make in defending the law.
Last November, Senior United States District Judge Barbara Crabb said a section of the tax code granting a benefit for “ministers of the gospel” not available to everyone else favors religion over non-religion, thus creating an establishment of religion prohibited by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
This is certainly not surprising to anyone who has been paying attention. The suit was filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.