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Letters to the Editor: Houses of worship have been crushed by COVID-19. They need PPP funds too

St. Patrick's
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York is one of the Roman Catholic instutituons that received assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program.
(Seth Wenig / Associated Press)

To the editor: As a clergy person of a minority religion, I treasure the separation of church and state with religious fervor. The pandemic has shaken us, spiritually and economically, to the core. (“If churches are getting COVID-19 relief funds, they should pay taxes,” July 14)

Most houses of worship do not have gargantuan resources. Since these institutions have been economically devastated by government-issued stay-home orders, it would not be fair to provide relief for everyone else and not for us.

Were it not for the federal Paycheck Protection Program, we would not have the staff to provide emotional support to the isolated, depressed and terrified masses; to harness trickles of joy on sabbath Zoom services; and to seamlessly continue to provide many hours of online enrichment to preschool children and relief to their parents.

Religious institutions have likely reached out to a significant percentage of Americans, helping them cope more effectively with this vicious beast of a disease and eliciting a calm resolve to press on with continued strict safety measures.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom has now barred us from gathering, but he has done us a great favor by getting us to tear down the walls of our thinking and finding new ways to form and maintain personal connections. May we thus find peaceful shelter.

Rabbi Jason van Leeuwen, Van Nuys


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