The hallelujahs are strained in US churches these days as donations plunge at the same time demand for aid is skyrocketing, reports the Wall Street Journal. Congregations across the nation are slashing budgets and even laying off staff, including pastors. Churches and synagogues usually weather downturns well, but not this time. "There has been significant tightening of budgets," said Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, spokesman for the Union for Reform Judaism, which represents some 900 congregations. "People have less money to give."
At the same time, more people are desperate for help, both spiritual and financial. "It's no longer just the single mom who needs grocery money coming in for help," said a board member of the Bent Tree Bible Fellowship Church in Carrollton, Texas. "We are now seeing couples with $400,000 homes who need help with a big loan payment."