Maryland high court says apartment building housing Mormon ordinance workers is a tax exempt convent

Howard Friedman, Religion Clause

In Green v. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, (MD Ct. App., Jan. 23, 2013), the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, ruled that an apartment complex owned by the Mormon Church used to house a revolving group of ordinance workers who perform religious ceremonies full-time for a two-year period at the Church’s Washington, D.C. Temple is entitled to a tax exemption as a “convent.” The majority of these workers are retired married couples.  The court interpreted “convent” as used in Md. Code 7-204 to mean “a community of people who live together, follow strict religious vows, and devote themselves full-time to religious work.” The court held that the Tax Court’s narrower definition accorded only with certain religious traditions such as the Catholic or Anglican churches.