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Religious leaders in America who have had qualms in the past about taking money from government may give in under financial pressure. Surveys suggest that between a quarter and half of all Christian churches nationwide have requested emergency loans under the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), most of their requests that have been approved for funding.
Of the country’s roughly 17,000 Catholic parishes, about 10,000 applied for PPP loans in the first round of loans, according to Pat Markey, executive director of the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference. Of this number, 6,000 have had their application approved. About 3,000 more parishes were told their applications were accepted in the second round, Markey said.
A investigation Protestant pastors from LifeWay Research found that a somewhat smaller share of those congregations, around 40 percent, applied for PPP loans in the first round. More than half of them said they were approved for assistance, according to Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay. No data is available for the second round.
“As the window of opportunity closes, the majority have chosen not to apply,” said McConnell. Among the apparent motives, he said, were philosophical objections to government taking money, the feeling that other institutions were more in need of the help, and a lack of the necessary expertise or institutional support. to complete the application process.
The LifeWay survey found that large churches were more likely than small churches to apply for financial assistance. About half of pastors in churches with an average weekly attendance of 200 or more reported applying for loans, compared with one-third of those with attendance below 50.
Synagogues have also requested government funding, albeit at a much lower rate. Out of nearly 4,000 synagogues in the United States, about 250 were approved for PPP loans in the first round of loans, according to surveys by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Even that number came as a surprise to some American Jewish leaders, given that many in the past have expressed concerns about the erosion of the separation between church and state.
In addition to synagogues, more than 300 Jewish nonprofits such as schools, summer camps, community centers and senior residences have been approved for PPP loans, according to Rebecca Dinar, associate vice president. Jewish federations.