The Busselton-Dunsborough Times has published my letter in response to my neighbour John Moor’s letter last Friday (which I have attached below).
Here is my letter as published:
John Moor (Letters June 10) laments the fact that churches are exempt from some rates and taxes. These exemptions date from a time when the churches provided many services to the community that governments could not. The question to ask is whether the community is still getting good value from the churches.
In Busselton, as elsewhere, the churches use their buildings to give services unavailable elsewhere. Cliff’s Kitchen, for example, at St Mary’s Church feeds several dozen needy people each week and provides friendship and support for those doing it tough. Parenting and life-skill courses are offered at many churches. The churches make meeting rooms available to self-help groups, sometimes at no charge, sometimes for a small donation.
Read the “What’s On in the Community” column in this newspaper and ask who is paying for the services offered at our churches – it will almost always be that church.
Governments acknowledge that the churches provide many helping agencies at a cost well below that which they could manage, and actively look for more ways to out-source those services.
Many Christians would also argue that just by being there churches provide spiritual solace and challenge to the community widely beyond their memberships.
By all means, demand that your politicians withdraw the churches’ exemptions, and then be prepared for the rate rises and the tax hikes as shire and governments pick up the important services churches now offer the community.