Pagan Group’s Property Not Entitled to Tax Exemption

Howard Firedman, Religion Clause

In Maetreum of Cybele, Magna Mater, Inc. v. McCoy, (S. Ct. NY Albany Co., Aug. 2, 2012), a New York state trial court concluded that property owned by the Cybeline Revival, a religious pagan faith, was not entitled to a tax exemption because the organization failed to show that the property was used primarily in furtherance of the organization’s religious purposes. Instead the primary use was to provide cooperative housing for the priestesses and their guests.  The religious activities that occurred on the property were merely incidental to its use as a residence. The court added that it had no reason to doubt the sincerity of the religious and spiritual beliefs of Cybeline Revival adherents.  Reporting on the decision, the Watershed Post says that the Maetreum will appeal and seek protection from foreclosure that is threatened by the county in order to recoup back taxes.