Why pastors’ housing allowance is tax-exempt

As we reported, an appeals court upheld the practice of pastors not having to pay taxes on their housing allowance.  But, you might ask, why is that?  Joe Carter explains the history of that provision, putting it into the context of the laws exempting religious property from taxation that go back through English Common Law  into ancient times. [Read more…]

The Obamacare confession

When I heard about the Obama operative who said that the passage of Obamacare was helped by Americans’ “stupidity,” I assumed it was just a gaffe, with which Republicans could play “gotcha.”  But it turns out, the comment was in the context of a frank explanation in front of a friendly liberal audience at MIT about how the administration got Obamacare through Congress.

And the operative’s other comments are even more damaging to the bill.  A second video supports the opponents’ of the law’s case before the Supreme Court by indicating that the language restricting subsidies to state exchanges was intentional. [Read more…]

Pastors’ housing allowance upheld

Pastors have traditionally been allowed to take a large percentage of their salary as a tax-free housing allowance.  A lower court last year ruled that the benefit is unconstitutional.  But now an appeals court has overturned that decision, meaning that the housing allowance is still on. [Read more…]

Our latest war is now illegal

The War Powers Act allows presidents to launch hostilities at their discretion, but they must receive the concurrence of Congress (to which the Constitution gives the authority to declare war) within 60 days.  If that doesn’t happen, the president has 30 additional days to end the hostilities.   The clock ran out on our war against ISIL on November 6.

President Obama is invoking the authority previously granted to fight the War in Iraq, but legal authorities question its applicability, since that war has been declared over and much of the fighting against ISIL is taking place in Syria.  But he could certainly make a good case for fighting those monstrous terrorists.  So why doesn’t he?

I suspect that neither the lame duck Congress with the Democratic Senate or the incoming Republican legislative branch wants anything to do with this issue.  This leaves the President to, once again, rule by decree. [Read more…]

The first New Class president

Sociologist Peter Berger discusses the Houston mayor subpoening sermons (which have been cancelled, by the way), the progression of punishment for those who do not agree with gay sex, and President Obama as the first president from the “new class”  (the elite social class that trades in information rather than tangible goods). [Read more…]

Pastors defying the IRS by politicking from the pulpit

More and more pastors are endorsing particular candidates from the pulpit, purposefully defying the IRS law for non-profit tax-exempt organizations.  So far the IRS is ignoring the violations, but the pastors are goading the agency by sending it tapes of their sermons.

Is this a violation of Romans 13?  Also, under Romans 13, shouldn’t churches just pay taxes, thus preserving their ability to preach whatever they want?  Or can you make a case for this kind of civil disobedience?  There is also, of course, the theological issue of what is supposed to be preached from the pulpit–namely, Christ and Him crucified for sinners, as opposed to worldly powers and principalities.  Or can you give a theological reason for preaching about political candidates? [Read more…]