Press Release

Court to consider nearly $1 billion tax threat to churches Atheist lawsuit seeks to end 64-year-old tax exemption used by churches, mosques, and synagogues nationwide

Media Contact

Ryan Colby 202-349-7219

Additional Information

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Pastor Chris Butler, the minister of a predominantly African-American congregation on Chicago’s South Side, will defend his ministry in court next week from a discriminatory lawsuit threatening churches across the country with nearly $1 billion per year in new taxes. In Gaylor v. Mnuchin, the atheist group Freedom From Religion Foundation is suing the IRS to end a 64-year-old federal tax provision that allows churches, mosques, and synagogues to provide faith leaders a tax-free housing allowance so they can live in the communities they serve. The tax provision, known as the parsonage allowance, operates under the same tax principle that allows teachers, business leaders, military service members, and hundreds of thousands of other secular employees to receive tax-free housing for their jobs. It also keeps the IRS from becoming entangled in religious matters. Yet last October, a federal court struck down the parsonage allowance, threatening vital ministries across the country. Becket is defending Pastor Chris and other faith leaders in their appeal to the Seventh Circuit, which must decide if the parsonage allowance is constitutional.

Oral argument in Gaylor v. Mnuchin

Luke Goodrich, vice president and senior counsel at Becket
Chris Butler, pastor of Chicago Embassy Church

Wednesday, October 24, 2018 at 9:30 a.m. CDT

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
Everett McKinley Dirksen United States Courthouse
219 S. Dearborn Street, Room 2722
Chicago, IL 60604

Becket attorney Luke Goodrich and Pastor Chris Butler will give statements on Twitter live immediately after the hearing.

For more information or to arrange an interview with a Becket attorney, contact Melinda Skea at or 202-349-7224. Interviews can be arranged in English, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.



Becket is a non-profit, public-interest law firm dedicated to protecting the free expression of all religious traditions and has a 100% win-rate before the United States Supreme Court. For over 20 years, it has successfully defended clients of all faiths, including Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians (read more here).