A Dec. 21 WorldNetDaily article by Bob Unruh carries the headline "Town taxes Christians for listening to sermons." Unruh's opening paragraph: "Christians who attend worship services in a suburb of Kansas City will have to ante up for new thousand-dollar city "fees" that are being assessed against their churches based on the number of seats in their sanctuaries."
You'd think this suburb was specifically targeting Christians, right? Wrong.
It's not until the fifth paragraph that Unruh writes that the fee in question in Mission, Kan., is a "Transportation Utility Fee," and that "The law requiress [sic] that owners of all property within city limits with improvements such as buildings or landscaping pay a fee."
So all property owners are subject to the fee, not just Christian houses of worship -- and,thus, not the case of religious discrimination Unruh suggests it is. That makes WND's headline and Unruh's opening paragraph highly dishonest.
As per usual, Unruh doesn't bother to report the other side, or even why the city is seeking to impose it. As the Kansas City Star reported, it's intended to pay for roadwork in the city, and the fees are not exactly onerous, especially by comparison with commercial businesses:
The fee is based on how much traffic each property produces. It shifts the burden for financing roadwork away from single-family homes that may not generate a lot of traffic, to properties such as box stores, churches and schools, which generate more traffic.
Homeowners will pay $72 a year in fees while the local Target store will pay about $46,000. According to the suit, First Baptist has been assessed $970.77 and St. Pius $1,685.19.
Unruh also offers no explanation of why churches should not pay their fair share to maintain city services, other than quoting a representative of the right-wing Alliance Defense Fund (with whom WND has a close relationship) insisting that "Churches are exempt from taxes for good reason."
There may be good reasons to oppose the city's fee, but pretending it's a case of religious discrimination -- as Unruh is doing by uncriticially regurgitating the ADF's claims -- is not one of them.