According to Tim Totten, the chair of the finance team at Fern Creek United Methodist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, who has been an active Bitcoiner for about two years now, he had been considering implementing Bitcoin donations for quite some time. We had a chat with him.
I was always afraid of being too far out ahead of the curve. Once major charitable organizations such as United Way and the American Red Cross started accepting Bitcoin donations, I knew the time was right.
The church, which has an active congregation of between four and five hundred people, now accepts Bitcoin donations directly and via Coinbase. Since its implementation, anonymous donations have started to trickle in.
Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.
– Ecclesiastes 5:10
Whether or not the global Bitcoin community starts contributing heavily is irrelevant; eight regular members of the congregation have experience with the digital currency, and Totten says he is planning to educate church members on Bitcoin.
I plan to teach some classes on Bitcoin in the coming months, so hopefully we can grow that number. I have had quite a few other members express interest in Bitcoin, so hopefully they become actual Bitcoin users once they learn more.
The way the US tax code works, charitable contributions to a church can be fully deducted from income tax. The way that Bitcoin is taxed means that when you make a contribution in Bitcoin, you can reap a deduction while also avoiding the penalty for realizing gains – the actual conversion to dollars happens via the church. Thus as more religious organizations begin to accept Bitcoin, large holders may want to consider them in their tax strategies.
But the move’s benefits don’t stop at accepting a new form of money. The church believes that accepting Bitcoin will make them more marketable to young adults who will view this as a progressive stance.
[W]e are aware that the typical bitcoin user is a younger adult, so hopefully that segment of our local population can see that, by accepting bitcoins, we are forward-thinking church that’s willing to try new things.
But, What Would Bitcoin Jesus Do?
For many on the outside, Bitcoin itself appears to be a religion, with many people clinging to it through the worst of times. Not to mention the likes of Roger Ver being dubbed “Bitcoin Jesus,” referencing the evangelical nature of Bitcoin promoters. Churches embracing the currency might lend a new level of validation to those struggling to communicate the value of their passion to others.
We are long past the days when a new organization accepting Bitcoin can be considered news, but perhaps with churches accepting Bitcoin, regulatory authorities will have to consider that there is a whole new segment of the population which would be affected by draconian legislation.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
– Matthew 6:21
“Gain all you can, save all you can, and give all you can.”
– John Wesley, Founder of the Methodist Church, 1744
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