Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Close to home

The Anchoress blogged Heather Wilhelm details how a church (non-tax-paying) is being taken to make room for tax revenues!

Since the Supreme Court’s controversial Kelo decision last summer, eminent domain has entered a new frontier. It’s not just grandma’s house we have to worry about. Now it’s God’s house, too. “I guess saving souls isn’t as important,” says Reverend Gildon, his voice wry, “as raking in money for politicians to spend.” The town of Sand Springs, Oklahoma, has plans to take Centennial Baptist — along with two other churches, several businesses, dozens of small homes, and a school — and replace them with a new “super center,” rumored to include a Home Depot.
I had not heard of this, but I am shocked.
It’s the kind of stuff that makes tax collectors salivate. It’s also the kind of project that brakes for no one, especially post-Kelo.
Kelo was a bad decision, and not just because it is now being used against churches. I said that when it first came out. I hope that it is reversed.
“I had no idea this could happen in America,” says Reverend Gildon, after spending Monday morning marching in the Sand Springs Martin Luther King Day parade.
A heavily-taxed, “social welfare” minded government is always going to be a more utilitarian, more “results oriented” sort of government - one that will undervalue those things which are not tangibly “useful” to either the lawmakers or to their perceptions of what “society” needs.

In such a world, what cannot be measured and exploited is perceived to be of dubious or narrow value. To utilitarians, a church that pays no taxes (even if it feeds and clothes and helps find employment for locals having some hard luck) is essentially a waste of good commercial space. A monastery, whether Buddhist or Christian, is nothing more than a greedy and exclusive landgrab that has no “public benefit.”
Another step toward trying to secularize the United States, like has already been done in Europe.

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