Jump directly to the content
Housing Allowance Update: Judge Grants Right to Intervene

By order dated January 19, 2017, Judge James Peterson of the federal district court for the Western District of Wisconsin granted a request by several parties to "intervene" in the pending challenge by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to the constitutionality of the clergy housing allowance. The defendants allowed to intervene in the lawsuit are Bishop Edward Peecher, Chicago Embassy Church, Father Patrick Malone, Holy Cross Anglican Church, and the Diocese of Chicago and Mid-America of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. The intervenors all claimed that their direct interests in preserving the housing allowance exclusion could not adequately be represented by the US Department of Justice, which had been the sole party defending the constitutionality of the housing allowance because of its responsibility to defend federal statutes.

The court noted that Rule 24 of the federal rules of civil procedure allows a party to intervene in a pending federal lawsuit if he or she meets the following requirements: "(1) the motion to intervene is timely; (2) the proposed intervenor possesses an interest related to the subject matter of the action; (3) disposition of the action threatens to impair that interest; and (4) the parties may not represent the interest adequately." The intervenors claimed that they alone could provide facts to the court describing how the housing allowance they receive works in practice, which they asserted would help demonstrate that it has a secular purpose and effect and does not violate the First Amendment's nonestablishment of religion clause.

Article Preview

This article is currently available to ChurchLawAndTax.com subscribers only. To continue reading:

View All
from our store
2018 Church & Clergy Tax Guide

2018 Church & Clergy Tax Guide

Find comprehensive help understanding United States tax laws as they relate to pastors and churches.
Politics and the Church

Politics and the Church

Tax and legal guidelines faith-based organizations need to know before jumping into the political fray.
Church Finance

Church Finance

Learn about budgeting, financial reporting, tax compliance, insurance coverage, and more
20 Finance Questions Churches Ask

20 Finance Questions Churches Ask

Richard Hammar shares his answers to 20 of the most widely asked and relevant tax and finance questions for church leaders.