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Tax Breaks for Clergy Come Into Question

April 10, 2002

Re "Pastoral Tax Break Faces Legal Test," April 6: USC law professor Erwin Chemerinsky claims that failure to tax the housing or parsonage allowance given to ministers by churches is an indirect subsidy of religion and therefore unconstitutional. Further, that there is such great need for the allowance is proof the government is subsidizing religion and further evidence that the wall of separation between church and state is being breached. However, if failure to tax is a subsidy, then we are less than sharecroppers and less than serfs. We are slaves, owning any income or property at all as a subsidy from government.

But the 1st Amendment also says that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the free exercise of religion. If not taxing part of a minister's income is a subsidy that breaches the wall between church and state, does not such taxation by the same degree prohibit the free exercise of religion?

Raymond J. Rostan

Santa Ana

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Because the wealthy Rev. Richard Warren has decided to try to improve his own personal financial situation and take on the IRS, the constitutionality of the parsonage allowance is being examined. Without the tax benefit, many churches across the United States may be forced to close their doors.

In secular areas, the rich guy sometimes ruins things for the little guy. I guess the same can be seen in religious circles.

Carol LaBounty

Orange

Thinking Twice

About Saving Mice

Re "These Endangered Mice Will Have It Nice," April 7: I have read recent articles about flawed federal wildlife biologists' reports, and now officials admit their mouse numbers may be up for debate? With this in mind, a developer is having to set aside 24 acres of ocean-view real estate--Dana Point Headlands, worth $30 million--for six Pacific pocket mice.

Let me do the math on this one: four acres at $5 million per mouse! These six are critical to the Pacific pocket mouse population in California--there are only 1,000 of them in another area (north of the Santa Margarita River). I wonder what these mouse-counting and mouse-management programs are costing U.S. taxpayers.

I think back to the times my faithful old cat Max would present me with the results of his latest hunting expedition. Max must have exterminated at least $20 million worth; I think I am protected admitting this. The statute of limitations probably has run out, and the killer Max is now in cat heaven. However, after seeing recent court cases concerning animals, killing a $5-million mouse. . . . They wouldn't, would they? It's a mouse--a mouse!

Bill Conroy

Northridge

Time Shift: Lighten

the Workload Too

In much of Sunday's news there was no reason to even smile. However, "Why You're So Tired Today" (editorial, April 7) made me laugh out loud. I could visualize those dairy cows waiting an extra hour. . . . Thanks for a much-needed respite.

Emma Gottlieb-Ellinoy

Seal Beach

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Why do we make the daylight saving time shifts at 2 a.m. on Sunday? It would be much nicer if the switches were made at 1 p.m. Monday. That way, when we set the clocks forward we would lose an hour of work. Furthermore, when we set the clocks back--turning 1 into noon--we would receive an extra hour of lunch. That plan seems much better to me.

Joshua Belsky

Davis

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Instead of moving our clocks forward one hour every spring and back an hour every fall, why not go with the law of averages? If we set our clocks to half an hour in between we could do away with all of this nonsense and never have to worry about springing forward or falling back ever again.

John Pattison

Los Angeles

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