Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The tax breaks enjoyed by ordained clergy members of all faiths should also be available to other people who are positioned in organizations that help their communities. Unfortunately this is not the case and thus represents yet again the government's priorities to reward religious institutions over other non-profit groups. Interestingly, the jobs and volenteer work that give back to communities are mostly held by women and the majority of clergy are men.
Clergy benefit greatly from a federal tax exemption on most of what they spend on housing which according to the New York Times accounts for a third of their compensation. Paster Warren, who interesting just wrote, "The Purpose Driven Life" which sold over 25 million copies states that the tax exemption compensates for the poor wages received by clergy members.

The tax break is not available to the staff at secular nonprofit organizations whose scale and charitable aims compare to those of religious ministries like Pastor Warren’s church, or to poorly paid inner-city teachers and day care workers who also serve their communities.

Ministers can also opt out of the taxes withheld from social security, all states but one allow clergy to exempt from paying state unemployment taxes, and a few states still include sales tax exemptions from religious publications. It's clear that tax breaks like these disporportionately benefit male dominated institutions and oppresses female dominated professions of the same altrusitic qualities.

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