In a Christianity Today article dated September 11th, 2012, we read where a federal judge has ruled in favor of the FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation) in their lawsuit against the housing allowance tax exemption for clergy. The article can be found at, http://blog.christianitytoday.com/ctliveblog/archives/2012/09/judge-revives-ffrf-atheist-challenge-clergy-housing-allowance.html
As I understand things, for the last few years, the FFRF has been fighting in the court system to eliminate the housing allowance tax exemption, that clergy have been using for several years in filing their taxes. After several defeats and setbacks, the FFRF has finally found a place of legal standing in a court that will allow their case to be heard.
Before we let the wheels come off our bus, there are a few things that every Christian needs to consider.
#1 – The Clergy Housing Allowance is a gift of social grace, not a Biblical command. – While I have enjoyed the personally needed tax break from this government exemption, I cannot, and neither can any other Christian, insist that we have a Biblical or moral right to such a tax benefit. One of the first most important things that is to color every issue in our life, is how will our response affect the gospel. The very last thing that is needed in any semblance of kingdom work, is for the men who identify themselves as men of God, called of God, and preaching in the pulpits of God, to begin acting like hirelings and start foaming at the mouth over finances. The Apostle Peter said, ” For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” 1 Peter 3:17 The housing allowance tax exemption for clergy is a personal help, but it is not a divine right. Lest we disgrace the gospel ministry with tantrums over money, pastors must be careful about expressing public angst over this lawsuit. We have an Advocate, and He is very well connected. Furthermore, if our society and general public wish to defend this issue, it will be defended. If not, so be it. The Lord needs not the government to have the right tax structure in order for Him to care for His men. (My suspicion is that His real men, know this already.)
#2 – The Clergy Housing Allowance is NOT a Housing Subsidy by the Federal Government. There are those within the same mindset as the FFRF(religion) that use langauge that implies we are getting a housing subsidy from the government. I can think of nothing more asinine, and unintelligent. That is the mind that every thing, every right, really belongs to the government, and it is by their grace they let me have a house. That is tantamount to saying since the government doesn’t charge me for the air I breath, I’m being kept alive by their good graces. The mindset that the government is the giver of all good things, is on the same level as someone genuinely believing the moon is made of cheese. I do not own this house by their permission or good graces, they govern by mine. The government by default does not ultimately own all things, and we thus live by their permission. I subsidize them, they do not subsidize me, at least through a “non-tax!” Any benefit that I receive anywhere in my life is a benefit that I have paid for through taxes that I have paid. The government produces nothing; and can only spend money that I give it; and it can only rule by my permission. One of the things that this country has lost is the fact that the Government is to be owned and operated by the citizens, and not the other way around. To say that a “non-tax” is a government subsidy is a communist idea, believing that all properties and people are really “Wards of the State” and therefore it is by the goodness of government that anyone has anything. Minds that produce that kind of thinking, prove that they are beyond the capability to function, and are as C.S. Lewis said, on par with a “man who believes he is a poached egg.”
#3. Freedom From Religion Foundation IS a Religion. The Judge that gave them standing in this case, as I understand it, said that because their employees could not receive this benefit, that the housing allowance tax-break violated the imaginary separation of church and state clause. I am almost ready to say, “Recognize their employees as clergy and give them the housing allowance.” Why? – Because they are a religion.
Non-Religion is a Religion. – Man can no more be non-religious than he can not have opinions. A Non-opinion is an opinion. A Non-belief IS a belief. An atheist makes it clear that he does not believe in God. Or more accurately, he makes it clear that he does believe that there is no God. The “Freedom From Religion Foundation” is in fact its own religion. “Free-thought” as their term is used, constitutes their faith. Every human being on planet earth believes something, even if it’s nothing. To believe nothing is to still believe. To reject God is the mirror image of accepting God. It is mindless and senseless to say, “Since I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in anything.” That is merely stating “I believe their is no God, and I do believe there is nothing to believe in.” – It is a faith, albeit imaginary, and that is a fact, and therefore needs consideration for recognition on the same level as any other man-made religion within our country’s borders.
Now all of that being said, it is imperative that the people of God stop thinking outside “The book.” The Lord cared for His men for millennia without any semblance of a Housing Allowance Tax-Break, and He’s not going to quit because a government chooses to stop it. I use it, and will as long as it is available and I will be thankful for it. There is no doubt that it is a great financial aid to many of God’s men in God’s pulpits across this land, and I do hope that it continues. However loosing sight of who we are, and Who we work for, because of the threat of a financial strain is not a change worth making. Sometimes the Lord feeds through Doves, sometimes through Ravens, sometimes through Rocks, and sometimes through Clouds; and He can do it in a way that no government on earth can tax.