All of us were taught as children not to accept candy from strangers. The fear, of course, was that the candy was not a good-will gesture on the part of the giver, but an attractive bait with an unattractive hook in it.
Now that Judge Perigo has determined —with the help of a reluctant prosecutor—that The Bridge is actually a camouflaged church, it is free to continue enticing our youth with a basketball court, a skate park, an arcade, a cafe, and other attractions, in order to persuade them that Jesus is The Way, all without the burden of paying taxes on the commerce associated with its deceptive business model.
Lest anyone doubt that the methodology of “attract and convert” was used at The Bridge, here is an excerpt from Derek Spellman’s story on April 24:
…Dan Mitchell, chief executive officer of The Bridge, said Friday the center’s activities and amenities were only tools that staff use to cultivate relationships with teens. The staff, whom he termed “missionaries,” are trained to “turn the conversation to Christ” as the relationship develops.
Spellman also quotes Mr. Mitchell as saying, the “whole idea is to bring people to the property and share the Gospel with people at the property.”
Forest Park Baptist Church “guides” weekly teen-worship services, which a cynic might construe as a chance to steer future tithes-payers to the colossus on 7th and Rangeline. And according to Spellman’s story, “staff members are required to submit monthly reports documenting their interaction with youths who visit the center.” Kind of like a conversion quota system—”How much Jesus have you sold this month?”
Anyway, I can’t help but wonder if our local Christian taxpayers would be equally enthusiastic about the continuing tax-exempt status of an Islamic version of The Bridge. If local Muslims decided to lure in our teenagers with attractions like skate parks, when the real motive was to persuade them to become followers of Allah, I can’t imagine the idea would get an Amen from the Christian Right in Joplin.
Saturday, May 16, 2009, 09:45 PM
You don’t sound very moderate…
Sunday, May 17, 2009, 10:45 AM
This blog and the previous “The Bishop and Mrs. Beasley” raise two important issues. This first is tax exemption status of The Bridge. It would seem to me to rest on the source of funds to build and operate The Bridge and where do any profits go from such operation. If it is a clean church funded activity in terms of both up front cost and return of revenue back to the church, it would seem to qualify as tax exempt.
If on the other hand it is private or public funds used to build and operate the center and the “religous” connection is a front to avoid taxes, then forget any exemption status.
I don’t know the answer to those questions, do you?
Not surprisingly, I admire Greenberg’s akill as a writer as well as many of his opinions. I always thought that he was a proponent and member of the Jewish faith to which I have no objection or prejudice. I was a little surprised by his attack on Episcoplian Bishop.
Whatever his faith, I whole heartedly agree that no faith can or should be publicly validated. It is strictly between the individual and their “god”, whether it is God, Allah, Budda, Jesus or the organization with whom they choose to affiliate.
I also have no problem with individuals publicly proclaiming their faith and encouraging others to follow their path. Just be polite and don’t dictate or ridicule.
Lots more could be said. I liked both of your blogs.