Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Foreclosing on God

The Wall Street Journal has an article today regarding an upswing in foreclosure actions against religious groups.  I don't think I can link to it since it is in a part of WSJ.com that is subscription only, but the article is entitled "Churches Find End Is Nigh: The Number of Religious Facilities Unable to Pay Their Mortgage Is Surging," by Shelley Banjo.

The article makes a few interesting points, including that lenders were eager to make loans to religious congregations for two reasons -- (1) the weekly contributions and (2) the willingness of pastors (or other religious leaders) to put their own money into the project in order to avert foreclosure, even though they had no contractual obligation to do so.  I would have thought that religious congregations would have found it difficult to get a loan because of the lack of contractual income (rent) and difficulty of adapting a religious building to an income-producing, commercial use.  If I were a lender, I wouldn't want to foreclose a religious building because I would assume that even in good times there would be a limited market.  Plus, by foreclosing on God, you earn a lot of bad press.

Tanya Marsh

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