Church foreclosures on the rise

While America didn’t make it into the 9 countries that are slowly losing their religion, you can rejoice at the knowledge church foreclosures are on the rise. Times have been hard for everyone, and when push came to shove, people chose to keep their money rather than to give it to purveyors of nonsense:

Religious denominations of all kinds have suffered in recent years as donations have declined, with many Catholic parishes closing and synagogues merging their congregations. But the property-financing problems have been concentrated among independent churches, which while seeking to expand lack a governing body to serve as a backstop to financial hardship.

Am I cruel for rejoicing in the failures of others? Yes, a little, but I’ve never claimed to be a nice man. I want a society free of superstitious ignorance, and I won’t apologize for seeing the decline of religion as one of the greatest signs of progress since the Enlightenment.

Have you seen the cool shit they’re doing with old churches anyways?

Comments (8)

  • avatar

    Richard

    I never thought I’d say this, but turning a church into a house looks like a awesome idea. I kinda get weird vibes going into churches, and so I like to steer clear, but looking at those pictures in the link… damn, that’s something I could get behind.

  • avatar

    Michael

    It might be possible that the decline of small churches might lead to more mega churches. Rather than large amounts of money spread over noncohesive churches, we might have more money going into larger institutions which will use it for organized plans such as DADT or against Seperation of Church and State.

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    Michael,

    In a round about kind of way having more Mega Churches could be a good thing. A lot of the MC’s do more than just proselytize, they operate book stores and coffee shops, they operate convention halls rented to the public, they have gift shops with church branded merchandise.

    Because of all these side businesses some people are starting to take a serious look at taxing the businesses side of churches. Smaller denominations however are going to complain as they need the tax free status to survive and continue their community work, they’re barely holding their own as it is.

    While I’m not a big fan of churches, or as I like to call them “Imaginary Friend’s House” [in a sentence, "My friend Jim visits his Imaginary Friend's House every Sunday."], it is important to remember that in many small towns they are often the ones who provide support to that community’s homeless. While I don’t like their teaching of fairy tales as truth, I *do* agree with the work they do in this regard. If a small town can’t afford a soup kitchen / homeless shelter I’m okay with giving the people who can a relaxed tax status so they can afford to keep doing it.

    But if all the smaller churches close, leaving only the MC’s in their wake, that argument evaporates because not only are the MC’s making a metric shit tonne of money through their side businesses, they also make a metric shit tonne of money through tithes from their extensive membership. The city could then have a secular non-profit set up to run the shelters and the MC could provide funding for the operating costs in return for a charitable donation receipt they can claim as a rebate on their taxes, just like everyone else who makes a charitable donation does.

    Pete…

    PS: I won’t even talk about the insane living allowances that church employees get on their taxes, pretty its absofuckinlutely crazy how much of our tax dollars, well actually American tax dollars because I don’t know what the situation in Canada is like, that these guys are allowed to steal from the public in the name of religion.

    Crazy as in Million dollar homes paid for by the taxpayers, if you wanna learn more check this out:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gPuk2ojYC00

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    Part Two:

    “we might have more money going into larger institutions which will use it for organized plans such as DADT or against Seperation of Church and State.”

    Right now a lot of the troubles we’re having with DADT and Separation issues comes from the fact a lot of the groundswell for these issues is from them whipping up the flock of the smaller congregations. It’s hard to shirk your “responsibility” for writing letters to your Representative in support of policies strengthening church doctrine when its just you and a hundred other people and you *know* they’re going to ask if you sent yours yet at the tea and coffee gathering after the sermon.

    With a Mega Church you have thousands, even tens of thousands, at the event. Unless you’re in the inner circle, meaning you get to stay and hang out with the preacher, most of the people are going to treat it like a sporting / concert event and leave after the sermon is over; there certainly isn’t enough room to have for several thousand people to have tea and coffee with the preacher afterward. Without that element of “peer pressure” I’d imagine most of the grassroots support would dry up, most people are lazy and will be less likely to volunteer for things and that “someone else will do it” when in a large crowd.

    If we corporatized and taxed churches you can be certain that this would happen. This is a also, I think, a good thing.

    With the grassroots pretty much gutted, through apathy and people’s general deep seated hatred of corporations, they’d have to resort to ad campaigns and even then would have to be careful. Media outlets are bound by public broadcasting standards preventing them from running ads that are blatantly discriminatory or in violation of public decency standards, this *should* limit them being able to “Gay Bash” too much. Separation issues, event though its a corporation its also a church and the American Constitution is pretty clear on them not passing laws in respect to the establishment or hinderance of religion; don’t know how that’d play out in the media but it could be interesting.

    Pete…

    PS:

    Not to mention that if churches were incorporated under the law they’d be bound by it. Think of how much it’d fuck up their ongoing recruitment plans by having to follow child labour laws, child information collection laws, or any of the other umpteen laws designed to protect children. Then consider how afraid corporations are of sexual harassment lawsuits, could you imagine the firestorm of controversy if an officer of the company (read as preachers) was embroiled in one? Its bad enough now with adult employees, imagine if it was a child who was a member of the “Jesus Fan Club”. Not only would he be jailed, the company would likely have to kick in money to the victim; a far cry from the current situation with the Catholic Church.

  • avatar

    Michael

    Pete, are you trying to kill me with words?! >_<

    I'm not sure i agree. In many churches, a position on something is taken and members are pressured to vote for them. If logical arguments mattered, these people wouldn't be in their religions in the first place.

    As for seperation of church and state, you assume that we have individuals in office who care to preserve it. Everyday we seem to have more and more people not even aknowledging the existence of the seperation.

  • avatar

    WCLPeter

    Nope, not trying to kill you, I just get talkative at times; its actually weird that TGA has had a number of topics I’ve been able to contribute to over the past few days, even got into a screaming match with Jacob! In a few days the topics will change, I won’t have anything to say, and your fear of death by words will be over, I promise. ;-)

    Yes, members are pressured to vote on church positions but that only works when the peer groups are small. If you’re part of a small group and *didn’t* vote with the group when you’re expected to, you’re going to be ostracized pretty quickly.

    Also most people in smaller churches go as much for the optics of it than anything else, how many religious people have you met that actually enjoy getting up early on a Sunday? While I know quite a few religious people, very few of them every go to church. All too often the ones who go are going as much for their social status and to show their piety as they are for the sermon.

    In a large group, on the order of the mega churches, there isn’t the space for everyone to hang around afterward so there is no peer group unless people *want* to make one afterward. Since most people don’t want to go to church anyway, though you could probably be persuaded to go and see the awesome singing and dancing show put on by the mega church on a Sunday, chances are that after the show is done you’re going to leave. The same small groups of people who *want* to create cliques to they can pretend to be socially important are still going to exist but, with fewer smaller churches, there will likely be fewer groups and the ones that remain are just as likely to compete with each other over ideological squabbles, how many branches of the Christian church are there again, and be much more competitive since the pool of resources needs to be shared amongst the other groups in the church.

    If they’re too busy infighting, they’ll be too busy trying to fuck us over.

    I agree with your on the Separation issues, there are many, on both sides, who wish that particular part of the American Constitution would simply go away. But if you fragment the religious right by corporatizing them and our demographic continues in its upward trend the two should converge into a situation that would make it very difficult to achieve the theocracy they’re striving for.

    And if America fails its Atheists can always move North to Canada. We’re projected to be Religion Free some day, probably after I’m dead, but since Religion isn’t that big of a deal up here any way as it is (politicians who try to bring it up are usually lambasted from all sides, we’re all to aware of the bullshit going on down south and we’re not too keen on bringing that up here), they should do just fine.

  • avatar

    Thyreal

    In Pittsburgh last fall I visited a brewhouse in a converted catholic church; the brewing vats were located where the altar had been and the pews had been converted into booths. Also, the confession booth had become the liquor cabinet. It was lovely. ;)

    … There’s an old church in my mom’s hometown that was converted into a home back in the 60s. I’ve never been in but it’s one of the nicest houses in the hamlet from the outside.

  • avatar

    Slartibardfast

    I see more and more clubs, restaurants and book stores in old/restored churches in Melbourne. They look great. All I can think of is ‘naaa na na naa naaaa, even tax exemption didn’t save you!’ :)

Leave a Comment

Scroll to top