Megachurches all over the country are extending their already-considerable reach by operating business, the New York Times reports. With an eye to both boosting local economies and bringing in converts, they're running credit unions, sports centers, office complexes, and limousine services. At least 10 own shopping malls; many are invested in housing.
The mixture of church and estate has made it hard for governments to sort out taxation—and competing secular businesses are starting to complain. “I have to constantly ask myself whether I am accurately allocating our costs,” says the manager of a church-owned shopping center. Church-sponsored events also pose a religious challenge, they say. “We don’t discriminate, but we do evangelize.”