You know how pastors get a ridiculous “housing allowance”? They get to exclude the cost of housing from their reported income, so that money never gets taxed.
Essentially, that means free housing, courtesy of the government, for reasons that no one can quite understand.
A government commission is looking into this issue and Christianity Today has a collection of opinions on the issue.
One of them caught my eye because it comes from Gene Edward Veith, provost at super-Christian-conservative Patrick Henry College:
“I’m all for saving tax money, but I do see the legal complication of giving tax breaks just to ministers, structured the way it is. A lot of ministers depend on it, and I don’t want pastors to suffer. I hope it’s retained, but at the same time it’s hard for me to find reasons why it should be.”
And, of course, you have several church representatives talking about how necessary this allowance is…
With all the money some of these places take in, you would think they could just pay the pastors what they think they’re worth instead of wasting the money on another church or 10.
That’s really the crux of the problem. The pastors who abuse the system already make way too much. And the pastors who don’t make any real money are the ones who would get screwed if the allowance was taken away.
Still, the government shouldn’t be giving Christian churches any special treatment when other non-profit leaders get no such reward.