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. It’s the kind of stuff that makes tax collectors salivate.When a church isn't safe in Oklahoma, it isn't safe anywhere.
Here's another graph from the story about which I will comment:
It makes sense on one level. Churches don’t generate any tax revenue for the government to spend. They don’t “stimulate” the economy. They often, much to their peril, occupy prime, envied real estate. With the supercharged powers granted by Kelo, be very, very afraid.Once a church occupied a place on the city square, true enough. Churches were--and in some places I've been they still are--social centers of communities. As for their tax exempt status, the charitible works of a church were once considered a good in themselves. Not so much anymore, it would appear. (Note to self: How visible are the works of local congregations these days? Are inward-facing congregations going to be most at-risk?)
Thanks to Kelo, a municipality can take land from a private owner and give it to ANOTHER private owner solely for the purpose of increasing its own tax revenue stream. How sick is that?
If I take money from you, that's theft.
If the government takes money from you, then gives it to me, that's considered "general welfare".
If I take a hammer from Home Depot without paying them for it, that's shoplifting.
If Home Depot comes to my town, and the local government takes my home and those of my neighbors to give to Home Depot, that's... what, exactly?
(ht: BizzyBlog and the update at BizzyBlog)
(see also: The Anchoress who picked up on the note to myself, Volokh Conspiracy, Batesline, Molten Thought)
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