Still Not A “Church”

April 6, 2011

Authored by: Nathan Boyce

In a previous blog, I described the revocation of the church status of Foundation for Human Understanding by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.  In that case, the Foundation claimed that the critical “associational” aspect required to qualify as a “church” was satisfied by a call-in show and the Court disagreed.  As part of the Court’s analysis, it described the different approaches to determine “church” status used by the IRS and courts.  The Foundation appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court recently denied cert.  This may frustrate some who would like to see more uniformity in how “church” status is determined. 

My guess is that the Supreme Court did not take the case because the Foundation wouldn’t qualify under any test since all tests require people to associate with each other.  (And, as a practical matter, I don’t think the different tests aren’t all that different–so there is no reason for the Supreme Court to clarify which is the right test.)