Major FFRF Legal Victory Eliminates Tax-Free Housing for Pastors

For years now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been in a legal battle to end the “parish exemption” that allows ministers to deduct the cost of rent for their church-owned houses from their taxable income. FFRF believes that this shows preferential treatment for religious leaders.

FFRF’s own board has even paid its co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor $15,000 each as part of their housing allowance, but because they don’t qualify as “ministers of the gospel,” the law doesn’t apply to them. That’s one of the ways they’ve tried to prove the law is illegal.

A few months ago, the U.S. Department of Justice ridiculously argued that the exemption was legal and that FFRF’s leaders were eligible for the tax breaks… because atheism, they said, was a religion:

Non-theistic beliefs, including atheism, may qualify as “religious” beliefs in various contexts because they pertain to religion and fulfill a similar role in a person’s life:

Because [FFRF] can show no facts to suggest that the IRS will apply terms like “minister” and “religious organization” as if they turn on adherence to some theistic belief or other content, this Court should not presume that the IRS would act inconsistently with the governing law regarding whether atheism a religion for purposes of an atheist’s claim…

No thanks, says Gaylor.

“We are not ministers,” she said. “We are having to tell the government the obvious — we are not a church.”

Yesterday, in a very surprising (but legally sound) decision, U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb ruled in favor of the FFRF, writing that the “parish exemption” was indeed unconstitutional:



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Atheists and Christians Will Gather Tomorrow in Boston to Help Feed the Hungry

Tomorrow afternoon, an interfaith group in Boston (including the Humanist Community at Harvard) will be packing meals for the hungry. Their goal is to package a whopping 50,000 meals in a single day — a huge undertaking, but very possible given their track record.

This infographic will tell you everything you need to know:

If you’re in the area, consider volunteering! Either way, you can donate to the very worthy cause right here. They need to raise $12,500 to pay for the meals and if you give at least $10, you can enter in a drawing to win Chris Stedman‘s book Faitheist.

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Mrs. Betty Bowers Delivers the Perfect Thanksgiving Prayer

It’s a good thing Mrs. Betty Bowers, America’s Best Christian, is here to give us a template for the perfect Thanksgiving prayer:



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Proselytwizing Has Never Been This Entertaining

A few years ago, Jana Riess began tweeting every chapter of the Bible, one a day. Her efforts have now been compiled into an excellent book called The Twible:

So what does the Bible look like in <140 character spurts? Well, here's all of Genesis 2:

2nd creation story. G forms Adam from dust; very green, 100% recycled material. Eden good. Don’t eat that tree. Yep, that one.


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When Charlatans Die, Is It Wrong to Criticize How They Lived?

Sylvia Browne, the “psychic” whose appearances on talk shows like “Montel” and “Larry King Live” made her a well-known celebrity, died on Wednesday at the age of 77.

Yesterday, a number of skeptics who have debunked her tricks for decades released statements concerning her passing — and they held very little back in their distaste of her professional life.

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