Articles

gavelThe federal judge who recently declared the clergy housing allowance unconstitutional has temporarily suspended its enforcement by the IRS. On December 14, 2017, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb stayed her October decision pending an anticipated appeal.

The Church Alliance is comprised of benefit executives from nearly 40 denominations and is on record as supporting the minister’s housing allowance. Pensions and Benefits USA Director Don Walter represents the Church of the Nazarene with the Alliance. Attorney Andrew Hendren, speaking on behalf of the Alliance, said the court’s ruling is stayed in effect until “180 days after the conclusion of any appeals.” Hendren added that the court has asked the parties for supplemental briefing on remedies. Parties involved in the litigation at this point include the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which brought the suit; the federal government; and certain religious groups.

On October 6, 2017, Judge Crabb concluded that “Section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code (the cash housing allowance for clergy) violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment because it does not have a secular purpose or effect and because a reasonable observer would view the statute as an endorsement of religion.”

“The housing allowance is a significant help to churches and clergy of many faith traditions,” Don Walter said. “We will continue to work with our associates at the Church Alliance to do what we can to retain this valuable benefit for ministers.”

The full text of the judge’s December 14, 2017, order may be found here.