A battle was taken up on Tuesday in the state's highest court, involving taxes and exemptions for religious institutions. Back in 2012, the city of Attleboro decided that parts of the LaSalette Shrine could be taxed because, the city argues, they are not used for religious worship or education. But LaSalette is appealing that decision, saying the entire property should be exempt from taxes under state law, because it's all part of the religious mission.

The city assessors said that the taxable property includes the Welcome Center, the cafeteria, the gift shop and conference rooms, and 110 acres of wooded conservation land. In 2013, the Catholic Missionaries of Our Lady of LaSalette applied for an abatement and were denied. Attleboro’s argument relies on the interpretation of a portion of state law, called “Clause Eleventh," that deals with tax exemptions and religious institutions. 

Reverend Laura Everett(@RevEverett) and WGBH Legal Analyst Daniel Medwed (@danielmedwed) joined Jim on Tuesday night to discuss. 

Medwed said that if parts of the institution are being used for nonreligious purposes, then they should be taxed as so. Reverend Everett disagreed. "What is a religious space?" she asked. "This is about not making a distinction between worship and charity." 

"We're making the case that religious institutions have the right to self determine what is their charitable act," said Reverend Everett. Medwed said that "with this [tax] privilege comes responsibility." The outcome of this case has immense implications. Struggling towns and cities could receive many more tax dollars. Both Medwed and Reverend Everett agreed that billions of dollars are at stake in this case.