COVID relief money – okay for churches to accept it?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020
 | 
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)

church and stateSome churches in America took government money under one of the earlier pandemic relief packages. Up for debate, however, is whether that was a good idea.

As Congress continues to debate another COVID stimulus package, one of the proposals is a new version of the Paycheck Protection Program – which some churches took advantage of the first time around. The original PPP offered forgivable loans to businesses, including non-profits, if they used it to keep employees on the payroll or hired them back. The debate among the faithful centered on whether it was a good idea for churches to take the money.

Dr. Robert Jeffress of First Baptist-Dallas says his board considered it a provision from God. "We would have definitely laid people off if we had not had this loan. There's no doubt about it whatsoever," the pastor tells OneNewsNow.

Jeffress

And Jeffress says he's been "absolutely free" to preach whatever he wants, even after taking the federal funds. That was a concern of some.

"And by the way, the Department of Justice weighed in on this early on and said there are no strings attached," Jeffress adds.

Others said it was better to pass on the offer. Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries, says his non-profit was among those.

"It's not a sin to take the money from the government. There are some biblical examples where government stepped in and helped God's people," Bentley offers. "But we think it's a really bad idea [in this case]."

Bentley

And while his concern wasn't about the government dictating the content of sermons, he does see potential problems on the horizon.

"We think [that] long term it could put a threat on the not-for-profit's tax-exempt status," the financial expert explains. "People who don't appreciate Christ-honoring organizations would ultimately say, 'You're taking taxpayer funds. We want to take your tax exemption away from you.'"

According to Bentley, atheist organizations have already begun that attack.

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