The ACLU's attorney, Jason Brandeis, stated, "we filed the case because, based on the facts and our interpretation of the law, it was not clear that it applied evenly to both religious and non-religious organizations. So we brought the case seeking clarification.
"It has been about making sure the state did not unconstitutionally grant preferential treatment and financial support to religious organizations. Judge Spaan's decision is consistent with that.
"In a lot of ways, both sides got what they wanted."
I wonder when the first person in Alaska will attempt to use Spaan's ruling to get out of paying property taxes?
My first marriage was performed by a friend who was a Universal Life minister. It was legal.
That church, over the years, has had mixed success in court cases having to do with its legitimacy, and with state and Federal tax laws. It appears to me, though, that if you consider yourself a teacher, or believe that your life's main purpose benefits your community, you can become a Universal Life minister, file for 501(c)3 status, and then file for municipal or borough property tax exemption, under Spaan's ruling.
I'm a teacher. My wife is a teacher. We're both adjuncts, and the pay we get is probably comparable to what Anchorage Christian School teachers receive. We're not about to try to avoid our property taxes through the Spaan loophole, but I have a hunch somebody now will.
image of the Universal Life Church seal