The Washington Post reports:
The news was as welcome to the group of Prince George’s County pastors as a plague of locusts: Maryland’s controversial “stormwater remediation fee” applied to all property owners, including houses of worship. Depending on the acreage, churches faced a tax of hundreds, even thousands of dollars. . .
After months of negotiation with county environmental director Adam Ortiz, the pastors emerged with a rebate deal that will significantly cut the fees if churches adopt programs and equipment that will curb runoff, lessen pollution and help bolster the environment.
So far, about 30 churches have applied. Forestville [New Redeemer Baptist Church] was the first. They are planning to install rain barrels, build rain gardens, plant trees and, perhaps, replace their blacktop with permeable pavement. The government will cover most of the cost.
Fine. Sounds like a waste of money to me, but that’s Maryland.
But then there’s this:
Thomas and other pastors also have agreed to start “green” ministries to maintain the improvements at their churches, and to preach environmentally focused sermons to educate their congregations.
What?! This is flagrantly unconstitutional. The state cannot impose a tax on churches, and then waive the tax if the church preaches sermons to the state’s liking.
But you expect the government, particularly in Maryland, to try get to gain control over churches. Governments have always done that. (That’s how America got founded, if you recall.) But I’m disgusted with the church for agreeing to go along.