by Jac La Tour
The federal government has spelled out its argument against a recent court ruling that declared a provision of the clergy housing allowance to be unconstitutional. A brief filed in the Seventh Circuit Court presents the government’s case.
According to an Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) report, the government contends that the district court should have dismissed the case filed by the Freedom from Religion Foundation because “the organization and its leaders lack standing required of plaintiffs to bring a challenge in federal court.”
The brief further contends that the exclusion is constitutional because “the history behind the law demonstrates it satisfies each part of the test used by the courts to evaluate whether a law violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”
While the ECFA reports the case will take time to play out in the courts, the good news for clergy is that, until it’s settled, “the suit will have no effect on ministers who currently receive a housing allowance from their church or other employer.”