Churches in a Maryland county are being offered tax breaks for incorporating environmentalism into their sermons.
In Prince George’s County, 30 pastors have started preaching ‘green’ ministries to avoid extra taxes, the Washington Post reports. The taxes depend on the acreage for all property owners, including churches, as part of Maryland’s “storm water remediation fee.”
Reverend Nathaniel B. Thomas of Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church said he attempted to challenge the fee and said:
“Once Uncle Sam finds a way to take your money, he doesn’t stop.”
Thomas acknowledged the people of his congregation have higher priorities than the environment, such as employment and family-related issues:
“I know I’m not going to get a lot of ‘amens’ today,” adding, “The question is, are we taking care of what God has blessed us with?”
Thomas also voiced his support for environmental consciousness:
“What God made was good, but it’s us that made it bad.”
Church leaders were able to negotiate a deal with the county’s environmental director Adam Ortiz. The deal reduces fees on the condition that churches introduce programs to lessen their environmental impact such as planting trees and constructing gardens as well as attempts to prop-up environmentalism.
Ortiz told WBAL Radio that churches “don’t have to preach, per se,” and they could avoid the fees entirely if they:
“(P)rovide educational programs to teach [parishioners] about how to be more sustainable. And to help them engage in grant programs and other ways that they can control the runoff from their property.”
One law that places a financial burden on Maryland property owners, the Stormwater Management-Watershed and Restoration Program or “rain tax,” led to the downfall of Anthony Brown, the successor to Gov. Martin O’Malley. Brown was recently defeated by GOP challenger Larry Hogan.
Regardless of how one feels about environmentalism, it is stunningly hypocritical if the same people who argue stridently for a “separation of church and state” have no qualms whatsoever with the state meddling in the churches to push government propaganda. This is symptomatic of a broader issue: why the government has control over church messages through its determination of tax-exempt status to begin with.