Saturday, April 26, 2008

Churches and Nonprofits are under Attack!

“Remember, O Lord … look, and see our disgrace. Our inheritance has been turned over to aliens, our homes to foreigners….We must buy the water we drink….Slaves rule over us, and there is none to free us from their hands. We get our bread at the risk of our lives….Joy is gone from our hearts; our dancing has turned to mourning. The crown has fallen from our head. Woe to us, for we have sinned!” (Lamentations 5:1-16, NIV)

Federal and State governments have found a new entity to attack; it is the faith-based nonprofit community. The Supreme Court has upheld that local governments, unless restricted by state law, can condemn, take private property, and sell it to developers to increase the tax base for the good of the masses, ignoring personal property rights. Churches beware. This means that if North Carolina legislators change state law, churches in North Carolina (as in some other states) could have its property condemned and sold for commercial development to increase the city and county tax base.

Even the continual rise in the minimum wage is hurts faith-based nonprofits, not as much as those on minimum wage (but that is another Blog). Local governments have been unfriendly toward Christian ministries for some time. However, in recent years it is becoming more so as local governments look to line their coffers with gold and silver, while taking our precious freedoms from us. In our city, like countless others across our nation, local ordinances and fees are pulling ever-increasing revenues from the nonprofit sector, decreasing it’s capacity to relieve human suffering. The two faith-based nonprofits that I am most involved with pay a combined total of just over $2,400 yearly for a local storm water fee. If the average is $1,200 yearly for the 3,000 churches in the county, that’s $3,600,000 annually taken from churches, not to mention the hundreds of other faith and ministry based nonprofits in the county. How many meals could this provide for the 2,700 hundred homeless children and the 2,300 homeless adults in our county?

As governments have become increasingly unfriendly to nonprofits, churches and faith-based ministries continue moving outside the inner city. As this happens, cities are becoming more corrupt, crime rates rise, and the influence of faith-based ministries are erased from the urban landscape.

Now faith-based ministries face another growing threat. In growing numbers, Christian denominations are becoming less friendly toward faith-based ministries, even their own churches. Historic denominations are allowing the love of money to guide their decisions. Last week, as I viewed a local newspaper, The Rhino Times, I saw an ad that reminded me of this point. Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, Charlotte, North Carolina, a 100-year old congregation is fighting to save their land and building from being sold by their denomination to a developer for condominiums. The advertisement placed by the church starts with the caption, “Build Christians, not Condominiums.” Oh how the great has fallen!

What is the solution? Christians need to run for public offices to serve others and bring an end to this dangerous trend of government intrusion on faith-based ministry. Christians also need to vote. Christians need to use their full understanding of God Word, His leadership revealed through prayer, and a desire to protect our historical freedom of faith and make their voice heard. So pour another cup of coffee and seek God in this ever-globalizing world. What does God want you to do to help restore His work in our cities?


MZG said...

I have always said that church is business. It should come as no suprise that denominations will weigh what a congregation contributes to what it is worth wholesale. Religion is different than church. Neither is faith and faith is what saves the soul. I think you are way off on the minimum wage issue. Raiseing the quality of life through keeping pace with inflation is a good thing. The cost of services will go up regardless. If the non-profits have to pay more and workers didn't sign on to get rich then have them volunteer, or contract them for tasks that don't fall under the hourly issue. Don't punish the masses to save your dollars. This benefits only you. If the minimum wage was 25 cent and your costs went down then you would be able to do more but there would be more to do for. This would be counter productive. I think that organizations and businesses that pay long term employees minumum wage are a disgrace to begin with. It shows they care little for there employees. I understand that the pay should match the skill required for the job but dependibility and quality should also be rewarded to prevent retraining costs because of turn over.

Anonymous said...

I must disagree on the fact that faith-based ministries are the newest targets by government. The Supreme Court upheld that local governments can condemn property to improve the area but property owners would be compensated fairly. The ruling was to support areas in the northeast to tear down slum areas and improve cities which in turn would increase the job base to help unemployed become employable. As for the
Rhino Times, I would hardly call that a local newspaper. If churches would adhere to Matthew 28:19-20 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost; teaching......I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen" we would not have to worry about the church's property being seized. We must stop hiding behind the non-profit title to line our own pockets.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Grigg,

I'm afraid all that you say is sad but true. There are other issues that prove that Christianity has been on the down climb for the past three years, according to the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. I think a lot of Christians believe and perhaps and say... "surely God will not allow us to go through hardship". They who think that need to remember what happen in the 70 years captivity. Who were in that group? Daniel , his three Hebrew friends, and Ezra perhaps others.

I believe God will allow we Christians to go through some rougher times in order to draw he closer to Him. It seems that devastations like Katrina and 911 are the only things that bring people close to God. This economic and food supply shortage was also used by God in the past and He does not change.

Keep up the good work!

Bro Rob

Anonymous said...

Dr. Grigg,

I agree with your latest Coffee with God. In reference to you mentioning that Christians need to run for office. I have several fellow Christians that hold public office and for the most part, they are struggling with being heard and most of the time are criticized for their beliefs.

Take Care,
Ron Main