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Supreme Court of the United States

Evangel Baptist Church v. Mifflin County Board of Assessment

Last Updated: 5/29/2020

Overview

What's at stake

  • The constitutionality of property tax restrictions that limit the ability of churches to build new facilities
  • Government restrictions that target churches for disfavored treatment
  • The ability of a church to define their own ministry

Summary

Evangel Baptist Church  saw an important need to expand their facilities to have more room for their ministerial work. The congregation decided to construct a family life center on one piece of adjacent property and use a house located on another piece of property for Sunday School classes. Expecting that these facilities would receive the same property tax exemption as was given for the main building, the church was shocked to learn that the Mifflin County Board of Assessment denied the exemption. The county claimed that the facilities were not used for regular "religious worship" activities. This unexpected tax placed a huge burden on the church.  The church challenged the county's tax assessment in court. The state trial court granted a tax exemption for the family life center, but not for the house where Sunday School classes were held. On appeal to the Pennsylvania Court of Appeals, the court granted a complete exemption for all property owned by the church. 

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom provided important funding to support the legal team defending the church.

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