Municipalities all across Canada are struggling to find adequate funding to cover all of their responsibilities within very restricted revenue frameworks imposed by their respective provincial governments. In such a climate all possible new sources of revenue need to be considered, including the property tax exemption enjoyed by “places of religious assembly.” Many leaders are concerned that in the present climate, proposals to tax the property owned by faith communities may receive a very favorable hearing.
Churches and faith communities of various traditions have a great deal to offer to society and to the common good. Typically, these have focused on qualitative contributions that congregations make to the cultural, spiritual, and social well-being of the communities that surround them. Faith-based organizations help people to explore and cultivate deeply held, centuries-old beliefs; to participate in rituals of meaning; to find comfort in their times of deep pain and sorrow; and to foster relationship in community. Communities of faith are safe places where people often gather to find answers to life’s biggest questions and to explore mysteries like, Why are we here? Where do I belong? and, What is the meaning of life? Even for people who would not describe themselves as people of faith, these communities act as incubators for commonly held social values.
Few studies, however, have assessed these contributions in quantitative monetary terms. Even fewer qualitative or quantitative studies, have begun to explore how these realities might create a space for faith communities at the social policy table.
The Halo Project is the first Canadian study of its kind to attempt to quantify in monetary terms the contribution faith communities make to their cities. The results are nothing short of astounding. The first phase of this project, which examined 10 faith communities in the Greater Toronto Area, found that the cost to replace their contributions to their communities totaled over 45 million dollars per year.
To learn more about how this fascinating study was conducted, click here.
To download a copy of the study, visit www.haloproject.ca.
Cardus is a think tank dedicated to the renewal of North American social architecture. Headquartered in Hamilton, ON, Cardus has a track record of delivering original research, quality events, and thoughtful publications which explore the complex and complementary relationships between virtues, social structures, education, markets, and a strong society. Cardus is a registered charity.