Churches are among those who apply for and receive federal paycheck protection program loans, thousands of them here in San Diego.
Aimed at small businesses, the program came under scrutiny after some large state-owned companies were given millions to supplement their payrolls. Now some are wondering how churches can qualify for funding.
Churches are combined religious and civil corporations. They keep payroll like any other business. But when congregations were forced to stay at home, donations nearly dried up, leaving front offices to turn to government for help, as did for-profit operations.
Kevin Eckery Vice Chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego The immediate funding cut had an impact on all employees in the diocese.
“Most of the jobs we have, believe it or not, are teachers. “
Each parish in the local diocese has qualified and received PPP loans, according to Eckery.
Nationwide, 12,000 of the country’s 17,000 and more parishes have applied for PPP loans and more than half have qualified, according to Diocesan Conference on Tax Management Director Pat Markey.
And it’s not just Catholic churches that are applying. Evangelical research company Lifeway surveyed Protestant churches across the country and found that 40 percent of those parishes had applied. More than half of the qualifiers, according to Lifeway director Scott McConnell.
“The government was really trying to help anyone with a payroll. There are a lot of Americans employed by nonprofit organizations, with churches being the largest number of them, ”McConnell said.
Churches and other nonprofits must be eligible for P3 loans like any other small business, and like any other recipient, they must repay it if they are not using it for what it is intended for.
The Catholic Diocese of San Diego said two-thirds of its employees are full-time. The loan will be used to pay the salaries of teachers and school staff, Catholic charity workers and those working in the pastoral center.