Dude, Where’s My Church?


Church demolitionYes, Cerulean Sanctum has jumped the shark. I used the title of an Ashton Kutcher movie for a post. This also marks the second time in eight days that Kutcher's been mentioned on this blog.

Shame on me.

Shame, too, on the Supreme Court for the land grab they hatched in last year's Kelo Decision (see this past post, "R.I.P. America, June 23, 2005").

According to this Washington Times article, in just one year under Kelo, eminent domain rulings resulted in 5,783 property seizures. Compare that one year total with the five year total encompassing 1998-2002 in which 10,281 properties were seized.

Before Kelo came to light, I focused on this issue in my post "Taking Away Your Church Building". It troubles me that we Christians are failing to consider how easy it is for our church buildings to be seized by local, state, and federal governments for any and all purposes.

There's a difference between conspiracy theories and preparedness. Land grabs against churches are increasing yearly (see this post for a few instances). To ensure the maximum possible tax revenue, towns are also blocking the building of new churches in areas of prime development. A quick Google search will turn up plenty of instances for these kinds of strong-arm tactics.

So why aren't we Christians as a whole doing anything about it? Are our church leaders making plans in case we have to go underground?  It hasn't come to that yet, but it's better for us to be thinking now about how we do church in a hostile social environment rather than later.

Rome is burning, folks. So why do our church leaders keep on fiddling? 

R.I.P. America, June 23, 2005


The Supreme Court BuildingAmerica—at least the America founded by the likes of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Franklin— has officially died.

The AP has the story here: Supreme Court rules cities may seize homes for business purposes. You can find the text of the ruling here.

See my post on where this will lead: Taking Away Your Church Building

This is not in the least a political blog, but just let me say that we are losing the United States of America one anti-Constitutional judicial decision at a time. And let me also say that this ties in with The Christian & the Business World series I’ve been writing for weeks now. Eminent domain has only been claimed for government purposes and then not very often. But now the Supreme Court has ruled that private businesses have an interest at least as compelling as the government’s to seize land. I can easily see “Christian” business developers pulling rank now in the name of “community leadership” to raze people’s homes to put in a shopping mall.

Notice especially the dissenting comment by Justice O’Connor:

The Court rightfully admits, however, that the judiciary cannot get bogged down in predictive judgments about whether the public will actually be better off after a property transfer. In any event, this constraint [ed.- the Court’s “public test” clause] has no realistic import. For who among us can say she already makes the most productive or attractive possible use of her property? The specter of condemnation hangs over all property. Nothing is to prevent the State from replacing any Motel 6 with a Ritz-Carlton, any home with a shopping mall, or any farm with a factory.

She concludes with this:

Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random. The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms. As for the victims, the government now has license to transfer property from those with fewer resources to those with more. The Founders cannot have intended this perverse result. “[T]hat alone is a just government,” wrote James Madison, “which impartially secures to every man, whatever is his own.”

This is classic Darwinian business practices at work, and just another nail in the coffin of the middle class.

Here’s the really scary part: What happens when a foreign-owned company tries this here? With government and big business merging, who is to say that the Mexican, Russian, or Chinese governments could not manipulate our country through Mexican, Russian, or Chinese corporate land grabs of private American property? Don’t think it can’t happen.

Or consider this: How much closer are we to the seizure of church buildings to benefit corporations or to allow a municipality to generate more tax revenue from a nonreligious source?

God have mercy on our country.

Taking Away Your Church Building


Church ruins The issue of the use of eminent domain for seizing property is looming larger for churches. Couple this with a reluctance of many localities to allow a church building to be built because it means a loss in tax revenue that could have been generated by a similar retail property, and you have a big problem not enough of us are talking about.

WORLD magazine’s blog made note of this recently with a link to the The CSM (not a source I usually link to, obviously, but the article is right on). The response on the blog to the article has been that “house churches don’t have this issue.” Well, I wouldn’t be too sure that truly flimsy eminent domain can’t be used against a house church after President Clinton’s shock-inducing Executive Order 13112 (which is conveniently “offline” at the National Archives) that basically gives the government the right to use eminent domain to seize property that has been taken over by “invasive species.”

What is insidious about EO 13112 is that our entire country is swarming with non-native species. You have a flock of starlings (European) in your backyard? The government can seize your property citing EO 13112. Got any honeysuckle (Japanese) growing in your yard? The government can seize your property under 13112. Truth is, this can be cited down to even the microbial level, so no one’s “house church” is ultimately safe under this EO. To make matters worse, President Bush—rather than responsibly rescinding it—amended EO 13112 with EO 13286 which gives the Department of Homeland Security the right to seize land based on “invasive species.”

Now I am not a conspiracy buff, by any means, but we Christians should be sobered by this trend to block church buildings and to use eminent domain to seize church properties. (Though, I am one who believes that churches today should be less concerned with building since churches may lose tax-exempt status in my lifetime. Having an expensive property is one way to bankrupt a church with property taxes.) We need to not be asleep on this battle. We may lose it sooner than we think if we are not diligent.

{Update 2/22/05}

The Supreme Court just stuck a knife in the back of property owners in the Kelo case and has set a very scary precedent for allowing the government to seize property for no real reason at all.