SBC Voices and the chatter on the FFRF IRC 107 Challenge!
- Over 30 readers' comments have been added to the article. Go to the link for the complete list. I am only copying my comment following the article below.
Please Pacify the Plodder!
by Rick Patrick
September 4, 2012
> (This piece is in response to the pieceCan someone please print a copy of SBC Plodder, wrap some fish in it, and send it to our friend William Thornton? In the imagery of The Godfather, this is how one signifies that someone dangerous to the mafia, such as Luca Brasi, now "sleeps with the fishes."
> that was just posted a few minutes ago,
> a re-post of William Thornton's SBC Plodder
> article concerning the housing allowance.
> Comments are open on this post as a place
> of discussion for both sites. Here is that
Someone needs to send William a message, and fast.
William is a talented blogger.
Although I happen to disagree with him on a variety of denominational matters, I actually find his work in tracking Cooperative Program giving trends enlightening. He certainly does not put the spin on the situation that one sometimes feels is offered by denominational leaders. He is frank and forthright, qualities I normally appreciate in the writing of journalists and bloggers.
But now he needs to stick a sock in it.
Thornton raises thorny questions about the legal exclusion of taxable income by ministers through the Clergy Housing Allowance.
His argument has been picked up and even advanced by Forbes magazine.
He recently joked that only eight people read his blog, but if one of the eight writes for Forbes we may very well attract the attention of the rest of the secular media.
William, my brother, your articles on this subject are nothing less than friendly fire.
I am the first to admit that the Housing Allowance, like many other aspects of the tax code, harkens from an earlier era in American life in which clergy received such a break in light of their value to society and a wage scale that often meant being paid in the chickens and garden vegetables of one's church members.
Granted, things have changed today.
However, most ministers, myself included, have come to rely on this Housing Allowance, as it probably saves most clergymen a few thousand dollars each year in income taxes.
William, the people opposing the Housing Allowance are atheist organizations, such as the Freedom From Religion Foundation.
Brother, most ministers are overeducated for their income level.
They sacrifice to embrace a calling that is more important to them than financial gain.
They work long hours for limited pay. Their dual tax status requires them to pay for Social Security through SECA at a rate of 15.3% rather than FICA at 7.65%.
In all of this, there is at least one significant tax break provided in the United States tax code.
Why do you want to consider eliminating it?
William, in one of our earlier exchanges, you mentioned we might get together for coffee sometime.
I would enjoy that. But if you keep writing about this topic in the same manner, I will be more than happy to allow you to pick up the tab.
From: Robert Baty
Date: Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Y'all might give Thornton his 15 minutes amongst
the Baptists, but this issue is reserved for
insuring me my 15 minutes to the broader audience.
Thornton suggested the Baptists might have some
Bring them on!
The Pacific Justice Institute has already pledged
to get involved, as it did in the earlier case,
but has been rather silent.
I am a theist (Church of Christ) and I support
the FFRF IRC 107 Challenge.
What ails IRC 107 could have been easily fixed
had there been the will to do so; a long time
Then there was Rick Warren's case and it didn't happen then.
Then there was the Grassley Commission and it didn't happen then.
Don't whine about the "atheists" bringing the case!
The theists had their chances and let them pass.
Simply speaking, it doesn't matter how "deserving"
you think poor preachers might be. The law allows
the benefit ONLY to "ministers" and that is enough
to have it declared UNconstitutional; in my opinion.
That's why the "standing" issue has been so important.
If "standing" is allowed, and it now has been, the
Court can't help but find the law UNconstitutional.
Congress and the President could act like they did
in Rick Warren's case, and quickly cure what ails
IRC 107, but it looks like they aren't going to.
What are y'all doing to get Romney and Obama to
address this issue as part of their campaigns?
And then there is Bush/Burleson deal that no one
wants to talk about; the one that allows the
"basketball ministers" and similarly situated
employees at places like Pepperdine to claim the
income tax free benefit.
I guess Baptists have more private schools and similar
businesses whose employees exploit the gimmick without
having the need for a Bush/Burleson-like deal.
Hooray for me! "Standing" has been allowed and I look
forward to the Courts deciding the issue on the merits.
It can't happen too soon!
Also, I've been patronizing the Baptists and others
who have been chatting about this. How about having
some Baptists requite my love and make their appearance
on this issue at my place:
See you there, or not!
It's my 15 minutes, and I plan to enjoy it!
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Jeremy Parks, born and raised in Texas, is an IMB missionary, having served the last 12 years in the Czech Republic, Venezuela and now in Ecuador. He and his wife, married since 1991, are both deaf. They have three children, all hearing. He works to plant churches in Ecuador and blogs at theonlyquestion.wordpress.com.
David Rogers is Senior Editor and Coordinator for Latin America of the Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute. Before this, David and his wife, Kelly, were missionaries in Spain for 18 years, the last 14 with the International Mission Board. During this time, they were involved in various aspects of church planting, leadership training, and mobilization. They currently live in Cordova, Tennessee, and have two sons, Jonathan (21), and Stephen (14). David earned his B.A. at Baylor University, his M. Div. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and is currently working on a Ph.D. in missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been blogging since February 2006 at Love Each Stone.
Anthony Russo spent 20 years providing computer support to corporate America, but now is a seminary student at Southern, studying for pastoral ministry. Having dabbled in amateur improv and stand-up comedy, his make-you-think humor inevitably comes out, but his true passion is to call unbelievers and Christians alike to live wholly for Jesus Christ. He blogs at ThrowAwayEverything.com.
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Andrew Wencl works for the Federal Government in Indianapolis, Indiana, but has begun distance learning through Southern Baptist Theological Seminary to prepare him for overseas missions. Fluent in Spanish, he and his wife, Hannah, work with Enfoque, the Hispanic ministry of Fall Creek Baptist Church in Lawrence. Andrew leads a small group and occasionally leads music and preaches.
- (Selected additional postings! - RLBaty)
From: Chris Roberts
Date: September 4, 2012
While I do not think a solid legal argument can be raised
for why this exception should be perpetually continued for
ministers, I do think it's an exception that can be granted
on the basis of the will of the people.
In the past, the people wanted this exception because of
appreciation for the work and office of the minister.
I would like that appreciation to continue.
One of the sad indictments of our nation is that people's
views of the church, and those who serve her, have plummeted.
We've brought some of this on ourselves through various
scandals and abuses, and some of it is due to the overall
decline of the spiritual condition of the nation.
Should the courts rule to strike down the exception, it
would be a sad indictment for the nation, not because the
nation has done something wrong or unfair to the ministers
(it wouldn't be wrong or unfair) but because the nation
has become so pagan, has turned so far from Christianity,
that she has no desire to help those who have done so much
for so many on matters of far greater significance than
education or healthcare or national security, etc.
As for you being Church of Christ, I don't suppose you
mean United Church of Christ, one of the most pagan groups
currently operating in America?
From: Robert Baty
Date: September 4, 2012
I am looking forward to the Courts resolving our difference
regarding the legal merits of the law.
It can't come too soon to please me.
As with so many issues, folks can express their appreciation
in many ways but, arguably, when they try to use the power
of Government to do so (e.g., via IRC 107) they can run
afoul of the Constitution.
Ruling IRC 107 is UNconstitutional will not be such as you
suggest, but that is a secondary/tertiary issue/consequence
we might also fuss about; maybe when you make your appearance
at my place as one here to requite my efforts here.
No one else has showed up yet.
No, it isn't United Church of Christ. It is "Church of Christ"
as might be commonly associated with Pepperdine, Harding,
Alexander Campbell, etc., etc., etc.!
From: Peter Reilly
Date: September 4, 2012
I am Reverend Thornton's friend at forbes.com.
I write about this mainly from reading court cases.
I have had guest posts from a retired IRS agent who is
outraged about Pepperdine University's basketball ministers,
Andrew Seidel of FFRF, to whom I gave a bit of a hard time,
and Rev. Thornton who defenced the allowance as a modest
It would be nice if a couple of you would put your comments
on forbes.com instead of preaching to the choir.
Reverned Thornton and I were both kind of outraged at Phil
Driscoll who was excluding 200k for his second home.
From: Robert Baty
Date: September 4, 2012
(Your comment is awaiting moderation.)
I was an "auditor" for a few years and then spent a little
over 20 years as an "appeals officer". I was never an "agent".
For those who might be interested, you can find an example
of my IRS work at (starting at the bottom of page 6):
I also encourage the folks here to "get out" a bit and offer
some comments over at Forbes in response to your column(s);
as well as my place where I have a light on for them at: