Unemployment compensation is a safety net on which many jobless Americans rely. Unfortunately, unemployed church workers are left blowing in the wind.
Under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA), churches are exempt from unemployment taxes, which means church employees are not eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Given the current economic situation, this little-known exception in our tax code is devastating for many families.
Even though church employees are subject to the usual deductions from their pay, they are denied unemployment benefits available to non-church workers.
While this particular loophole seems unfair, the real issue is social justice, which, it appears, many churches preach but few churches practice. While FUTA rules allow for this exception, churches do have the option to voluntarily purchase unemployment insurance. Most do not.
With numerous passages in the Bible that call for Christians to act with compassion toward others, the notion that a church could cast aside a faithful employee so easily seems, at best, irresponsible if not utterly hypocritical. In reality, churches are expected to operate under the confines, or in this case the freedom of state and federal laws, but is it unreasonable to expect these churches to acknowledge the higher court, which they serve?
Although man’s law gives churches a free pass on social awareness, it is time many churches rededicate themselves to the mission they so nobly accepted and so boldly proclaim. Until then, we must put our faith in the government and hope that at least some members of Congress have read their Bibles.
Purlear, N.C. 28665