Almost HALF of all Catholic churches in the US were given small business loans as part of coronavirus emergency funding – The Sun
MORE than 12,000 Catholic churches applied for PPP loans meant to hold small businesses together in the US.
Three in four had them granted as small businesses are forced to make life-changing and devastating decisions over their futures after being denied the money that was specifically meant for them.
Between 12,000 and 13,000 of the 17,000 US Catholic churches applied for PPP loans, denying the lifeline meant for millions in their communities.
The study found that the larger the church, the more likely it was to have applied for federal aid.
Churches of all faiths have been advised to assess their needs as most technically qualify for PPP, but the move is causing a crisis of morality considering Jesus' teachings and the unregulated wealth held by the Vatican.
The much-needed loans from the federal Paycheck Protection Program has already seen national chains soak up millions of dollars meant for smaller fish.
This sparked an outcry among Americans on behalf of the millions of businesses it was meant for but who have been shut out.
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, according to CBS.
This is because the requirements for PPP loans are the same whether a business or organization is secular or not, allowing major organizations such as the church, and chain restaurants like Shake Shack to cash in.
Markey said that houses of worship and their affiliated schools are trying to keep employees on their payrolls as well, just like other businesses.
He said: "The PPP isn't about the federal government assisting houses of worship or churches."
"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 is 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."
Catholic churches are not the only religious institutions seeking PPP funds.
A new survey by LifeWay Research found that 40 per cent of Protestant churches in the US also applied for government money through the CARES Act or the Small Business Administration, 59 per cent of those Protestant churches that applied for assistance were approved.
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.
The Jewish Federations of North America reported that 573 Jewish organizations were approved for PPP loans, with a total value of $276 million.
Among that group were 219 synagogues who received just over $50 million in loans.
An additional 391 Jewish organizations reported that they had applied for loans and were awaiting the government's response.
Those requests had a total value of $106 million and an average value of $118,000.
However, there were only 1,200 responses to their survey and they believe the actual numbers are higher.
Frustratingly this is not against the rules.
According to the US Small Business Administration, "Churches (including temples, mosques, synagogues, and other houses of worship), integrated auxiliaries of churches, and conventions or associations of churches qualify for PPP and EIDL loans as long as they meet the requirements of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and all other PPP and EIDL requirements."
Churches are automatically granted nonprofit status. So provided an individual branch employs 500 people or fewer, it can now request a federal loan for up to two and a half times its average monthly payroll under the same rules meant to save businesses.
US houses of worship are experiencing a drop in donations as people are no longer allowed to worship together in person.
DROP IN DONATIONS
According to the LifeWay survey, 40 per cent of pastors report that giving has decreased compared to earlier this year, with 18 per cent reporting that income is down more than 50 per cent.
However, there are some in the Christian community who are disgusted by churches taking advantage of PPP loans.
Former Republican mayor of Valparaiso, Indiana, Jon Costas, wrote in Christianity Today: "If most churches take advantage of PPP loans, it could easily capture one third of the entire $350 billion allocation.
"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.
"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."
Markey, however, disagrees, pointing to the fact that PPP funds have been offered to U.S. houses of worship "without strings attached."
"Our message to our membership was: If you need this funding to keep your people employed, you don't have any other resources, then absolutely you should apply.
"If instead you don't need it, if there are other ways that you can meet those demands then don't apply.
"And since we see that not all parishes applied, we think our membership followed that advice. "
Regarding Costas' fiscal estimate, Markey was incredulous.
"When you're talking about the breadth and the scope of it, it's a fraction.
"A small church on the corner is like a small business in the sense that we're employing people and this whole part of the law is about keeping people employed.
"We can't go to Wall Street and sell stock the way a corporation can. We don't have access to funds that publicly held companies have.
"If all the churches, synagogues and mosques in the United States took advantage of this, you wouldn't even get to $3 billion. That's a lot of money, but it's only a fraction of the total PPP amount.
"We're not here to take anybody's money. We just want to keep our people employed and our houses of worship going."
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