What is their case? The ministers need the tax-exemption to avoid taking on a second job that would cut into their ministry, and the churches can't afford to spend more on their pastors without spending less on religious activities.
For instance, regarding Peecher's situation, he "uses his home to fulfill his pastoral duties," Becket Fund stated in its request to intervene in the case. "He invites members of the Church into his home for individual spiritual counseling, prayer meetings, and social events. Bishop Ed's pastoral team meets in his home, and he prepares his sermons in his home office."
Thus, "the parsonage allowance also allows him to devote himself full-time to the ministry," they added.
"Without the parsonage allowance, Bishop Ed would likely have to take a part-time job to cover the increased tax burden. Alternatively, if the Church were to increase his pay to compensate for the tax, the Church would need to cut back its vital community ministries."
Regarding the Orthodox clergy, the Becket Fund stated that "a priest must be present to lead multiple divine services every week, and is called to counsel his flock and visit the sick regardless of the day of the week or the time of day that the need may arise."
To do this, they "are required by Church regulations to live within the geographic boundaries of that parish."
"The majority of parishes in the Diocese have budgets of less than $100,000, and most priests are bivocational – meaning they work secular jobs to support their families," they added.
"Striking down the parsonage allowance would place a severe financial strain on the parishes' ability to provide for their clergy and would likely force some priests to cut back on their priestly work to take additional secular work."
This could have a devastating spiritual impact upon a parish, the memorandum explained:
"Priests also have the responsibility to ensure that none of their parishioners 'dies without a final confession and the Holy Mysteries of Christ.' Secular employment makes it more difficult for a priest to 'drop whatever [he] is doing to respond to a parishioner who is ill and at risk of dying.'
"Forcing priests to take on additional secular work would take away even more from the time that they can spend performing their pastoral duties, and magnify the risk of the 'great spiritual tragedy' that would occur if the priest 'did not make it in time and one of [his] parishioners died without a final confession.' Thus, for the Intervenors, losing the parsonage allowance would restrict, minute for minute, dollar for dollar, the modest resources that they have to carry out their religious missions."
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