January 25, 2006

Follow the money

Boston Globe

By Eileen McNamara, Globe Columnist | January 25, 2006

If merely feeling burdened were reason enough to avoid paying taxes, state and federal coffers would be empty.

But that is the argument of religious organizations trying to kill legislation that would require churches in Massachusetts to do what every other tax-exempt charity in the state is already obliged to do: open their financial books to the public. The filing fee and accounting costs would be too burdensome, they say.

This is called a smokescreen. ...

O'Malley has managed to convince the state's other religious denominations that they are being drawn into a family squabble among Catholics, many of whom have questions about the source of the millions spent to settle so many sexual abuse cases and the disposition of proceeds from recent sales of church-owned real estate.

This bill is not about payback. It is about accountability. The clergy sexual abuse scandal and the contentious process of closing Catholic parishes highlights the perils of institutional secrecy. But every religious organization owes financial transparency to every donor who drops a dollar in the collection basket or writes a check for the annual appeal. It is just not that big a burden.

Posted by kshaw at January 25, 2006 02:15 PM