The Coronavirus epidemic hit Church business badly in the United States of America (USA). According to the CBS News report, between 12,000 and 13,000 of the 17,000 Catholic Churches applied for those coveted Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. On March 27, 2020, U.S. Congress passed the Cares Act, a massive $2.2 trillion recovery plan to address the economic fallout caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. The Payroll Protection Program is part of the Act and is designed to help small businesses survive and recover.
Pat Markey, the Executive Director of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference, an association of finance officers from Catholic dioceses, estimates that around 6,000 Catholic parishes had their applications for federal funding approved in the first round of PPP and around 3,000 have received loans so far in the second round.
While talking to media, Pat Markey said, "PPP is about keeping people on payrolls, and a large segment of our society is the not for profit world. And large segments of that society are churches and houses of worship. And they have people on payrolls too. So, if what this is about is keeping people on payrolls, then we all should have availability to do that."
According to a survey published by lifewayresearch.com, 40% of Protestant churches in the U.S. also applied for government assistance offered either through the CARES Act or the Small Business Administration, and 23% of those Church's pastors reported that their applications were accepted — meaning that 59% of Protestant churches that applied for assistance were approved.
The Churches has moved to apply for federal assistance because of the drop in donations from the faithful. According to a survey published by lifewayresearch.com
, 40% of pastors report that giving has decreased compared to earlier this year. More than half of pastors say giving has decreased more than 25%, and 18% of pastor report that it is currently down 50% or more.
Scott McConnell, Executive Director of Life Way Research, said, "The lost income of attendees will challenge churches in the days ahead to do more with less and to care for the growing needs of others."
While some Churches against the PPP funds. According to them, the decision to apply for and receive PPP funds is one of the most important issues the Church will face in this decade.
According to a report published by Christianity Today
, Jon Costas, a former Republican mayor of Valparaiso, Indiana, said, "It is quite possible that if most churches take advantage of PPP loans, it could easily capture one-third of the entire $350 billion allocations. There are socio-economic and social justice issues here that must be considered by suburban churches who may drain grant money away from those who need it more.
I believe the decision to apply for and receive PPP fund is one of the most important issues the Church will face in this decade. It will set a precedent for the future and may, in time, hinder the mission of the Church when the strings attached to Government funds are not consistent with Scripture."
In this financial crisis situation due to Coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Church leaders prefer to run the church business. The pastors/ clergies are employed in the Churches, and they would not run the Churches if not received their committed salaries.
Pat Markey said, "A small Church on the corner is like a small business in the sense that we are employing people. And this whole part of the law is about keeping people employed. We cannot go to Wall Street and sell stock the way a corporation can. We do not have access to funds that publicly held companies have. We just want to keep our people employed and our houses of worship going."
To boost the economy, financial assistance is a must for those businesses, which generates revenue for the respective Government. However, the above report concludes that though the Church is a religious institution, it is a Business which never generates any revenue for the Government. They need aid for their Church leaders to run the Churches, gospel across the country.