Minister’s Housing Allowance Challenged

In yet another California challenge to the constitutionality of the minister’s housing allowance (or parsonage allowance), the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit in Sacramento federal court arguing that ministers should not be granted a special tax exemption not available to others, as this represents a violation of the separation of church and state. The lead counsel for the Foundation is Michael Newdow, who gained notoriety as the attorney who led an assault on the pledge of allegiance in public schools. The lawsuit was filed in October 2009, and in December 2009, a federal judge ruled that certain ministers – in favor of the housing allowance – could not join the case as they had requested. In 2002 Congress passed the Clergy Housing Clarification Act, which thwarted a previous constitutional challenge to the housing allowance. To read more on this story from The Sacramento Bee, see