Church Foreclosures Soar Heavenward

Houses of worship ensnared by same shifty credit as homeowners
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2010 1:06 PM CDT
Church Foreclosures Soar Heavenward
A candlelight vigil to show solidarity with immigrants, homeless and victims of foreclosure, at the Dolores Mission Catholic Church in Los Angeles. Churches must now show solidarity with themselves.   (AP Photo)

Homeowners and banks aren’t the only ones laid low by the reckless mortgage market of years past, as churches across the nation teeter on the brink of foreclosure. Houses of worship ensnared by the promise of low rates and big loans set out on a spree of new construction, only to find donations dry up and creditors unforgiving—or bankrupt. “It’s happening to virtually every church,” a pastor tells Reuters.

At the height of the bubble, new loan makers emerged to take advantage of the church mortgage sector, long the domain of smaller, specialized banks. These newcomers crowded out traditionally prudent lenders with too-good-to-be true offers. Now, foreclosures against churches have tripled since 2007, and more than 100 declared bankruptcy last year. One pastor of a megachurch is receiving the sort of support he's more used to doling out. “People call and say, ‘You’re not alone.’” (More foreclosures stories.)

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