The Episcopal Church will not be getting the last-minute blessing it needed to continue receiving tax-exempt status from the federal government.
But the federal judge overseeing the church’s appeal to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says it has the right to continue to participate in church services even after the tax-free status expires, The Associated Press reported.
The decision comes just days after the church sought to overturn the tax exempt status of the National Catholic Reporter, which published a series of articles criticizing the church.
“The church has a fundamental right to participate and participate in its worship services,” said U.S. District Judge Steven Dennis in his ruling Thursday.
“Its religious liberty is not imperiled because it is the church that is involved.”
The church is appealing to the Supreme Court to stay the tax exemption.
If it loses, the church will have to go back to its current status as a tax-exemption entity.
It is also appealing a lower court ruling that found it did not have to file an annual tax return.