Our neighbors to the north are exploring ways to dip into the treasury of churches to increase the tax coffers. The “secret” report was recently leaked. It revealed that the government was studying the way churches, mosques, temples, and other places of worship have traditionally been exempted from paying property taxes and finding legal ways to end that status. The study was commissioned by the Toronto, Ontario region City of Brampton.

A leaked draft of the report fell into the hands of a number of Brampton churches who formed the Brampton Faith Coalition. The group is headed by pastor Kevin Begley of the Harvest Worship Centre in order to fight the proposed legislation.

According to some, the recommendations in the report go far beyond taxation and aim at government control of people of faith. One reported called them “chilling” and “reminiscent of communist era repression.” The measures are aimed not only at established religious organizations, but they also restrict the right of believers to gather in small groups for religious purposes.

The study proposes a regulation on “house churches,” which it defines as any gathering in a private home for religious purposes. Such meetings would be limited to no more than twenty people, including children, if permitted at all. Some leaders want to ban such meetings from residential areas altogether.

Other recommendations include: taxing all “non-worship space” owned by religious organizations such as halls, nurseries, offices, kitchens, parking lots, etc (only the actual space where the congregation gathers for worship would be tax exempt); redefining what constitutes a “place of worship”, including removing of provisions expressly allowing church properties to be used for community services such as day care or study centers; placing severe restrictions on the establishment of new churches, including regulating what space these start-ups could rent, where, and for how long; establishing a ratio of one place of worship for every ten thousand residents; substantially increasing permit fees for renovation, new construction, and zoning and variance issues.

The City of Brampton has refused to produce a copy of the study for public examination, citing confidentiality rules, but Brampton City Council is scheduled to vote on the issue later this month.

The Mayor of Brampton is Susan Fennell (mayor@brampton.ca). The website is: http://brampton.ca/mayorcouncil/home.tml#

The address is: Mayor’s Office; City of Brampton; 2 Wellington St. West; Brampton, ON; L6Y 4R2; Phone (905) 874-2600; Fax (905) 874-2620

To contact Pastor Kevin Begley and the Brampton Faith Coalition:
Harvest Worship Centre; 79 Bramsteele Road; Brampton, Ontario; L6W 3K6; CANADA; 905-861-9244; info@hwc.org

First Reported by Thaddeus M. Baklinski on LifeSiteNews.com