Lawsuit Attacking Minister's Housing Allowance
Pacific Justice Institute
Sacramento-based Pacific Justice Institute is filing court papers this week to intervene in a federal lawsuit filed Friday by well-known atheist Michael Newdow. The lawsuit challenges long-standing federal and state tax exemptions for housing allowances provided by churches and religious institutions to members of the clergy.
PJI is currently facing off with Newdow in two other lawsuits, both in the federal courts of appeal. In one case, he is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to order that the national motto, "In God We Trust," be stricken from our nation's coins. In a second lawsuit defended by PJI, Newdow is asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to have prayers and the phrase "So help me God" at presidential inaugurations declared unconstitutional. Newdow is also behind a long-running lawsuit against recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance.
In the new case, Newdow represents the Freedom From Religion Foundation and several of its members. They are claiming that provisions of federal and state law that have for decades permitted tax-exempt housing allowances for ministers are unconstitutional. For most churches, a housing allowance has taken the place of providing a home or parsonage to augment pastors' often meager salaries.
Brad Dacus, Pres PJI
Pacific Justice Institute is assembling a broad, diverse coalition of local ministers who would be directly affected if the Court rules in favor of the plaintiffs. PJI expects to file a motion to intervene on Wednesday.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, commented, "Just in time for Halloween, radical anti-religionists are unleashing their favorite scare tactic: a federal lawsuit, this time directly attacking ministers. It is unfortunate that these chronic litigants fail to see the invaluable community services provided by members of the clergy. Ministers of many faiths are dependent on the housing allowance to supplement their meager salaries. We will not stand by and let anti-religious ghouls threaten yet another American tradition."
About The Pacific Justice Institute: Pacific Justice Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) legal defense organization specializing in the defense of religious freedom, parental rights, and other civil liberties. Pacific Justice Institute works diligently, without charge, to provide their clients with all the legal support they need. Pacific Justice Institute's strategy is to coordinate and oversee large numbers of concurrent court actions through a network of over 1,000 affiliate attorneys nationwide. And, according to former US Attorney General Edwin Meese, "The Institute fills a critical need for those whose civil liberties are threatened." "Through our dedicated attorneys and supporters, we defend the rights of countless individuals, families and churches... without charge."