Sunday, May 10, 2020

Handouts Requested


Following surveys taken in 2018 and 2019, the Pew Research Center noted last October that

the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.

Both Protestantism and Catholicism are experiencing losses of population share. Currently, 43% of U.S. adults identify with Protestantism, down from 51% in 2009. And one-in-five adults (20%) are Catholic, down from 23% in 2009.



There are many reasons for people leave Christian churches. Among them is the belief that they are profit-driven. greedy, and hypocritical. Alas, it now appears that this perception is more real than imagined.  CBS News reports

As suffering small businesses around the country clamor for much-needed loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, news of prominent national chains receiving millions of dollars sparked an outcry among owners of smaller businesses who have been shut out. Now, many will likely be surprised to learn that between 12,000 and 13,000 of the 17,000 Catholic churches in the U.S. also applied for those coveted PPP loans.

Pat Markey, the executive director of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, an association of finance officers from Catholic dioceses, estimates that around 6,000 Catholic parishes had their applications for federal funding approved in the first round of PPP and around 3,000 have received loans so far in the second round.

While most people likely don't think of Catholic churches as small businesses, Markey says houses of worship and their affiliated schools are trying to keep employees on their payrolls as well.

"The PPP isn't about the federal government assisting houses of worship or churches," he tells CBS News. "PPP is about keeping people on payrolls and a large segment of our society is the not for profit world. And a large segment of that society are churches and houses of worship. And they have people on payrolls too. So, if what this is about is keeping people on payrolls, then we all should have availability to do that."

However, churches are tax-exempt organizations, not businesses. They shouldn't be eligible for a taxpayer-funded bailout, even aside for the obvious violation of the wall of separation between church and state laid out in the First Amendment.

Some Jewish organizations received funds, also. Although the story said nothing about Muslim religious organizations- a major omission- we do learn that

Catholic churches were not the only religious institutions seeking PPP funds.

A new survey by LifeWay Research found that 40% of Protestant churches in the U.S. also applied for government assistance offered either through the CARES Act or the Small Business Administration, and 23% of those church's pastors reported that their applications were accepted — meaning that 59% of Protestant churches that applied for assistance were approved.

The larger the church, the more likely it was to have applied for federal aid. Half of the pastors at churches that average 200 or more attendees said their church applied for a loan, compared to only a third of churches that average fewer than 50 attendees.

In a major upset, there evidently is at least one Republican party official- from Mike Pence's state, no less- who understands, because

"It's quite possible that if most churches take advantage of PPP loans, it could easily capture one third of the entire $350 billion allocation," Jon Costas, a former Republican mayor of Valparaiso, Indiana, wrote in Christianity Today last month. "There are socio-economic and social justice issues here that must be considered by suburban churches who may drain grant money away from those who need it more. I believe the decision to apply for and receive PPP funds is one of the most important issues the church will face in this decade. It will set a precedent for the future and may, in time, hinder the mission of the church when the strings attached to government funds are not consistent with Scripture."

For a Christian (at least one of the Protestant variety), Scripture must be paramount. But for some many of these Protestant and Catholic churches, money talks, bull_ _ _ _ walks. And so will, as time goes on, even more of their parishioners.



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