Virus loans helped companies affiliated with Trump’s evangelical allies

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NEW YORK Churches affiliated with President Donald Trump and other organizations affiliated with current or former evangelical advisors to Trump have received loans of at least $ 17.3 million from a federal bailout to the small business during the coronavirus -Pandemic should help.

Borrowers include City of Destiny, the Florida Church calling home to Trump’s personal pastor and White House faith advisor Paula White-Cain, and First Baptist Dallas, led by Trump’s ally and senior pastor Robert Jeffress. City of Destiny received between $ 150,000 and $ 350,000 from the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, and First Baptist Dallas received between $ 2 and 5 million, according to data released Monday by the Treasury Department.

Loan beneficiaries included several churches and organizations affiliated with allies who joined Trump’s evangelical advisory board during his 2016 campaign and helped a twice-divorced candidate win a socially conservative constituency that has proven to be an integral part of his political base .

Payments to churches and other organizations affiliated with Trump’s evangelical allies represent a small fraction of the total aid the program has given to religious institutions that have had access to pandemic aid credits, even if they only performed faith-based functions.

Jeffress noted that in setting up the aid program, the Trump administration and Congress not only allowed the participation of places of worship, but also “encouraged” requests for aid, understanding “that places of worship are not just ministries, they are employers.”

However, the number of loan recipients linked to the President’s religious supporters illustrates the potential pitfalls for churches and other faith communities that have opted for financial assistance in light of the blurring of the line between church and state from Oak Park Guarantee.

Government data shows that the Jeffress Church reported keeping 293 jobs on its loan and that Prestonwood Christian Academy in Plano, Texas received a loan of between $ 2 million and $ 5 million. This school is affiliated with Prestonwood Baptist Church, where Senior Pastor Jack Graham is a longtime Trump supporter who wrote an op-ed praised the president’s anti-abortion credentials in January.

Graham, whose mega-church has more than 42,000 members, is not related to Trump’s evangelical advisor Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed in any way without permission.

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