Bonus U.S. Preachers

For several months, a certain bishop in Germany caused an uproar far beyond the borders of his Western German diocese because the costs for buildng his private residency had gotten out of hand. In the United States, a Federal court just started the process of chipping away at a parsonage exemption for clergy. Ruling in a suit brought by the atheist organization "Freedom From Religion Foundation" against the IRS, the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin recently (on November 22, 2013) declared a portion of a section of the Internal Revenue Code unconstitutional. Section 107(2) permits a so-called "minister of the gospel" to exclude from income the rental allowance paid as part of his or her compensation. The legal feud over the privilege for clergy highlights differences in the handling of separation of church and state in the United States vs. Germany, as Georg Hirsch reports.

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