Clergy housing allowance

Justice Department appeals housing allowance ruling

DALLAS (BP)—Department of Justice attorneys appealed a federal judge’s ruling declaring the ministers’ housing allowance unconstitutional.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago will hear the appeal.

The November decision by federal Judge Barbara Crabb was stayed pending appeal, meaning it had no immediate impact on ministers. The Freedom from Religion Foundation brought the court challenge to the ministers’ housing allowance.

The appeal provides an opportunity for the federal appeals court to uphold the longstanding statute that allows churches to provide a tax-free housing allowance to ministers.

“Pastors and others in ministry are facing challenges here in the United States that would have been unthinkable as little as a decade ago,” said Tim Head, GuideStone executive officer for denominational and public relations.

“While we welcome news of the government’s appeal, we recognize this case is far from settled, and we remain engaged to advocate for the housing allowance benefit.”

GuideStone, as part of a longstanding coalition of ministerial benefit boards, intends to file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting the government’s position that the ministers’ housing allowance is constitutional.

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