Thursday, December 13, 2007

Church Expansion Pisses Off Neighbors, Obligates Taxpayers

Churches are "non-profit," eh? Sounds like a lot of profit in Knox County's largest Protestant church, which will get $12 MILLION in tax-exempt bonds for a private school. And get this: if the Baptist church fails to repay the bonds, then the Knox County taxpayers are on the hook for paying for the cost of the church expansion. Churches and parochial schools sound like a low-risk, high profit industry to me. And taxpayers sound like the patsies.

Clarification: My belief that Knox taxpayers will be on the hook should the church bail should not be confused with the details of the original report, which I question. When are folk going to stop living like something can be had for nothing and stop assuming that this is all fine because a bank will clean up the mess no strings attached to the taxpayers? Just try and convince me that Suntrust won't pass the costs of a bailout on to taxpayers.

UPDATE: The Knoxville church benefitting from the bonds is First Baptist Concord. According to its latest financial report, FBC's personnel budget is $3.9 million.

UPDATE: Here's a report from July on how the church expansion plans concern the surrounding neighbors. It appears to boil down to a fear that an 8,000 member church outnumbers the voters in the local neighborhoods. FBC says that tried to reassure neighbors by saying that it wants to spend $37 million in order to "help people grow spiritually." I'm still trying to figure out what spiritual growth has to do with tens of millions of dollars.


  1. The fifth and sixth paragraphs of the story you link to says specifically that taxpayers would not be on the hook in the event of default and that SunTrust which issued the letter of credit would be responsible. Sounds like a case of premature indignation.

  2. And SunTrust is federally insured. I have a hard time believing that costs of non-payment will not be passed on to local taxpayers, unless SunTrust has suddenly become a self-sacrificial philanthropic organization.

    But otherwise, I guess we should be okay with issuing bonds for church expansion. At least one can be under an anonymous identity. What one does when under one's real name is something else.

  3. Your argument is flawed.

    SunTrust is not a self-sacrificial, philanthropic organization, but it is in the business of taking calculated risks. They obviously feel the church is creditworthy or they wouldnt have issued the letter of credit.

    What bank isnt federally insured? If the bonds werent issued, the church would be borrowing the money from the same private federally insured establishments so what is the difference to the taxpayer? None.

    Finally, the courts decided in the Libscomb case that these bonds are legal.