The post begins:
Court documents in the divorce of Allen Prevo, son of Anchorage Baptist Temple pastor Jerry Prevo, and Holly Jo Prevo raise questions about ABT religious exemption housing. Or, in the judge’s words, “if there was a tax appraiser or a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News, things would not look good… it’s pretty loosey-goosey to me.”
Alaskans, particularly those who live in Anchorage, have an interest in this because, as Green writes further down in the post:
Anchorage news junkies may remember that in April 2004, In April 2004, municipal tax assessors revoked the exemption for four ABT-owned houses that were determined to not qualify for a religious exemption because none of the people living in them was “a bishop, pastor, priest, rabbi, minister or religious order of a recognized religious organization” as specified in state law about property tax exemptions. Three were teachers at the ABT-affliated Anchorage Christian Schools. The fourth was a janitor. Then, a couple of years later, the Municipality discovered that an additional six ABT-owned houses were occupied by teachers.
The long post reflects Green's usual careful and detailed analysis and is well worth people's time.Anxious to retain its tax exemption on those houses, ABT enlisted the help of assistant pastor Glenn Clary, who also happened to be the treasurer of the Alaska Republican Party, to go down to Juneau and lobby legislators to fix things. The Republican-dominated legislature was quick to respond: in March 2006, Senate President Ben Stevens drafted language which added “an educator in a private religious or parochial school” to the list of people whose residence in a house made the house exempt from property taxes. Furthermore, the new language defined a “minister” to be someone who is considered one and is “employed to carry out a ministry” of a religious organization. Stevens then asked Sen. Bert Stedman, chairman of the Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee, to introduce the new language into a redraft of an obscure property tax bill that Sen. Con Bunde had introduce the previous year. Public testimony on the bill a few days later was aligned squarely against the bill, but legislators advance it anyway, and it ultimately passed and was signed into law by Gov. Frank Murkowski. The ACLU of Alaska sued, but ultimately a Superior Court judge found the new law constitutional.