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Hopefully, this is the beginning of a trend.
News story in a nutshell: in 1954, a bill was passed that allowed religious ministers to avoid paying property taxes. The bill’s sponsor argued ministers should be rewarded for “carrying on such a courageous fight against this [godless and anti-religious world movement].” In other words, the bill’s purpose from the very beginning was to reward organized religion.
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin declared the bill unconstitutional, claiming that it gives preferential treatment to religious ministers and no one else.
This tax exemption cost the taxpayers $2.3 billion just between 2002-2007. Do you remember all the news stories about megachurch ministers and their mansions? They owe you a “thank you” card since you helped pay for them.
Right now, the ruling is on hold until the appeals process is complete. There’s a lot of money at stake here, so the religious arguments in favor of preferential treatment should be pretty interesting, to say the least. They’re trapped between a rock and a hard place: if they don’t appeal the court’s decision, they’ll lose billions of dollars. If they do appeal it, their remarks and comments about why religious ministers are so special and should get unique tax breaks will be a matter of public record, there for all of us to see. (And for me to repost!) And even then, there’s a chance that their appeals will fail.
This article has a lot more information, including the full text of the court’s decision.
- Golgotha was an inside job.