Southern Baptist Leadership Unconcerned About Clergy Abuse Of Tax Break For Housing

The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) was quick to denounce Judge Barbara Crabb’s ruling that excluding cash housing allowances to clergy from taxable income is a violation of the First Amendment establishment clause.  SBC, as the second largest denomination in the country, is probably the one with the most skin in the game, since they have more clergy serving congregations, than the first largest denomination – Roman Catholicism.  Russell Moore , the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, is reported to have said: The clergy housing allowance isn’t a government establishment of religion, but just the reverse. The allowance is neutral to all religions. Without it, clergy in small congregations of all sorts would be penalized and harmed.” He also, perhaps unfairly, laid into Judge Crabb The judge in this case has a history of issuing similar decisions. We will continue to fight to protect the housing allowance, because we believe clergy are essential for flourishing, vibrant communities When I spoke with Reverend Moore, I asked him what the other decisions were.  I knew about her 2010 decision declaring the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional, but one decision does not constitute “a history of issuing similar decisions”. Reverend Moore did not know of any others.

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