Vol. XVIII, Issue 13

March 18, 2019

Appeals Court Rules Clergy Housing Allowance ‘Constitutional’

In a 3 to 0 decision, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals found that the clergy cash housing allowance under section 107(2) of the Internal Revenue Code is constitutional under two different tests set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court: the traditional three-factor test in Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602 (1971), as well as the “historical significance” test of Town of Greece v. Galloway, 572 U.S. 565 (2014). The Court issued its decision March 15, 2019, in Gaylor v. Mnuchin—the case in which the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been challenging the constitutionality of the clergy cash housing allowance under Code section 107(2). A copy of the decision is here.

Wespath and its Church Alliance partners, who last year filed an amicus brief in the case in support of the housing allowance, are pleased with the decision. The Church Alliance brief was joined by numerous additional amici, including the UMC’s General Council on Finance and Administration.

The plaintiffs may seek to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it is uncertain whether the Supreme Court would take up the case. Wespath will keep you informed as any further developments unfold.

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