9 October 2017, by Dave Kuschel, Assistant Vice President, Communications
Last Friday a Federal judge ruled that the clergy housing allowance violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment, and thus that it is unconstitutional. The court’s ruling has no impact on in-kind housing provided to a minister.
The ruling does not immediately take effect, as the court has not yet determined how it will be applied. At that time this court may place a “stay” (like pressing the “pause” button) on the court’s ruling while it is appealed. Even if a stay is not granted, the reach of this court extends only across the western part of Wisconsin, and the Internal Revenue Service likely will refrain from enforcing the ruling there until the case has been decided at the highest level — possibly the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is almost certain to be appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which previously vacated a similar housing allowance ruling by the same district judge.
We will continue to monitor the activity related to this case and keep our ministries and workers up to date as to its potential impact.