“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?