For a couple of 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 their mortgage/utilities/parking/furnishings from their taxable income. FFRF argues that this shows preferential treatment for religious leaders.
In fact, FFRF’s own board has 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,” they’re arguing that the law doesn’t apply to them and, therefore, it’s illegal. (For what it’s worth, they didn’t try to obtain the exemption and get rejected; they’re simply speaking on principle.)
In a recent twist to the case, the U.S. Department of Justice is arguing that atheism is a religion, so Barker and Gaylor should be able to qualify for the exemption:
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