A prominent Christian lobbying organization is warning its supporters a recent landmark Supreme Court decision puts churches at particular risk for seizure since they do not generate tax revenue for government.
“Churches occupy prime city properties all across America, but what will happen if local governments seeking more revenue set their sights on them?” asked Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, in an e-mail.
The June 23 Supreme Court ruling in Kelo v. City of New London gave the Connecticut town’s government the approval to seize residents’ homes and transfer them to a private party for development of an office complex. In the highly controversial decision, the justices ruled 5-4 that the economic development and increased tax revenue resulting from the eminent domain action qualified as “public use” under the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.
It’s the tax-revenue increase lure Perkins believes may prompt local governments nationwide to target churches. The activist believes conservative churches are especially at risk due to decision-making city officials ” who are in many cases hostile to religion.”
Wrote Perkins: “If you are upset about the fact that private property is at risk, you are not alone! Private property rights are foundational to a free and prosperous society.”
Perkins encourages supporters to contact their federal legislators about supporting S. 1313, sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, which would blunt the impact of Kelo, promising to return to a more traditional meaning of eminent domain.
“The bill has a real chance of passing, if we can generate strong public support,” Perkinds said. “Let your U.S. senators know that private homes and property must be protected, as they have been since the founding of America.”