Corporate welfare for Jesus
by Ari Armstrong
The following article originally appeared at Boulder Weekly on September 8, 2005.
Whom would Jesus tax? Taxes for Jesus. Welfare for God. You're paying $115,200 in taxes to a Christian publisher in Loveland called Group Publishing, Inc. ACLU lawyers practically have a coronary every time a teacher whispers "God" in a classroom, yet the state is forcing all Colorado taxpayers to subsidize Christian proselytizing.
It's a practice even many Christians find offensive. Fellow Weekly columnist Wayne Laugesen, a Catholic, said, "That's the last thing on Earth that you want. You don't want the state sticking its tentacles into religion. I want the state out of my religion."
The Economic Development Commission's 2004 activity report notes that Group Publishing "was founded in 1974 when Tom Shultz [actually spelled 'Schultz'] (now CEO) began to publish church ministry resources from his apartment in Loveland, Colo. Today, Group Publishing has grown to over 250 employees and sells its materials throughout the world... The EDC approved an incentive grant in the amount of up to $64,000..." The grant is listed as "pending" in that document.
The EDC's report also lists a $51,200 grant from Colorado First, another tax-funded bureaucracy.
The website for Group Publishing -- www.grouppublishing.com -- notes that Schultz's mission was to help people "experience a genuine, life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ" and "help people experience God's love."
The website also states, "We're on a mission from God... to help people build their friendship with Jesus Christ... to help churches apply more effective methods of Bible learning and ministry... to provide real ways for people to serve God and others... to help people of all ages actually experience God and grow a lasting faith."
Serve God or else, ultimately, armed agents will seize your property and, if you resist, throw you in jail or kill you. "I was sent by Jesus, and I'm here to help you." You're going to feel Jesus's love whether you want to or not.
The Jesus tax is wrong on two main levels. First, Jefferson desired a "wall of separation between church and state." He also said, "To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." Forcing people to fund the ideas of Group Publishing, Inc., is a violation of their rights of property and free speech.
On a broader level, corporate welfare is inherently wrong. People should not be forced to subsidize any business. The proper role of government is to protect individual rights, not forcibly redistribute funds to special interests.
If enough people like what a business has to offer, that business will succeed without corporate welfare. If a business is unsuccessful at attracting customers, then it should not be propped up by subsidies. Corporate welfare destroys wealth by redistributing resources from higher-valued uses to lower-valued uses. And corporate welfare violates the individual's right to spend his or her income.
I was unsuccessful in reaching Schultz. However, Bill Korte, vice president of marketing and sales, returned my call.
Korte said, "Group publishes resources and offers services to churches. That's what we do."
I asked, "Would you consider your business to be successful?" He said, "Yes... We currently employ around 350 people."
Korte said the grants, in part, "were for training for employees." At the time of the call, he didn't know if his corporation has received the grant money yet.
"So what are your company's general views on corporate welfare?" I asked.
Korte said, "We basically are able to, each year, tithe from our profits, and give back to the local community, to the general churches across the country, as well as internationally. So each year we do give back."
Me: "OK, that's great, but that wasn't my question."
Me: "So what are your views or your company's views on corporate welfare?"
Korte: "Corporate welfare. You define that for me, and then I'll answer."
Me: "Well, it's money that the state gives to a corporation, such as Group Publishing, Inc."
Korte: "Our view would be if we are providing services that benefit Colorado, then it would be something that we would participate in, and see if, in the eyes of those who have the grants, we qualify for."
Me: "So Thomas Jefferson said the following: 'To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.' Do you agree or disagree with Mr. Jefferson that to take money for this sort of corporate welfare is sinful?"
Korte: "I guess I would have no comment on it."
How about this for a comment? "Thou shalt not steal."
Every profitable business offers a beneficial service. But most beneficial Colorado businesses are not subsidized by the state. Only politically favored businesses get corporate welfare.
But Group Publishing, Inc., is certainly not alone. The same year EDC also approved grants for Kodak, Munich Air Service, ProLogis Inc., Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, Inc., Stanley Aviation Corporation, and others.
Evan Metcalf of EDC says that, from 2001 through 2004, EDC approved grants totaling $11,948,041, though about $2 million of that money was later withdrawn or returned.
And because we pay so much in corporate welfare, now some politicians want to raise our taxes even higher.