It never seems to fail, especially in hard economic times, that people begin to question and challenge some of the legally approved financial benefits others may be getting. I can understand people’s frustrations. Maybe because these groups are visible and hence easier targets. I think it would be far more productive to address the illegal “benefits” of the shadow economy which I spoke of in a previous blog, (Pensions are not the Problem, Feb. 21, 2012).
But I would like to address the question of the value of a church (or any house of worship) to the community since a few individuals seem to begrudge the tax exemption status. I know there are abuses -- there always are counterfeits where there is truth -- but I am speaking of legitimate churches here.
But since the church is not a business it is hard to produce a ‘bottom line figure’ that one can produce when you look at the tax exemption. It a bit like comparing apples to oranges.
What price can one put on a youngster who through a loving congregation is made to feel accepted and through the preaching and teaching chooses not to join a gang? One less gang member means less graffiti, theft, vandalism, assault, perhaps even murder.
What price can one put on the person counseled not to divorce or not to commit suicide? How many lives would avoid being hurt or nearly destroyed?
What price can we put on a person who is aided through a joint effort with, say Alcoholic’s Anonymous, to recovery and to become a productive member of society? One less DWI, one less family being evicted for failure to pay rent that was used for alcohol or drugs, one less road fatality. What price shall we put on that?
What price can we put on giving food and clothing to the poor and needy or the teen mother who chose not to abort? What price can we put on the generosity of a congregations giving to organizations to stop domestic violence or the sex trafficking of children? Or contribute to the local community chest?
What price can we put on the comfort gained by a pastor’s visit to one in the hospital or the hospice center or the family at the funeral home?
Finally, what price can we put on the gospel offer of eternal life through faith in Christ? “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jn.3:16
Taxes can be tallied, “What good is it if a man gain the world but lose his soul?” Lk.9:25, but the I think all of the above is: “Priceless!”