PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Religious organizations usually aren’t eligible for money from the U.S. Small Business Administration, but Congress allowed them to take part in the Paycheck Protection Program — and many in Florida did.
According to data compiled from the SBA and ProPublica, more than 760 religious organizations in the state received the taxpayer-backed coronavirus aid.
The largest beneficiary was Grace Fellowship of West Palm Beach, a church that qualified for a PPP loan between $5-10 million, according to the federal data, to save the jobs of 182 people.
There are organizations of various faiths that received aid in the form of those low-interest loans.
For example, Ministerio Internacional El Rey Jesus in Miami got between $2-5 million to save 287 jobs.
The Archdiocese of Miami received between $1-2 million to retain 100 jobs.
The Lubavitch Educational Center, a private Jewish school in Miami, received $1-2 million to save 340 jobs.
The government’s data, released last week after pressure from Congress and a lawsuit from news outlets, shows only ranges of loan amounts. It also does not name recipients of loans under $150,000, so there are likely many more Florida places of worship and faith-based organizations beyond the 760+ that received at least $150,000.
Based on just the list available, religious organizations in Florida were granted between $196 million and $467 million.
Of those 760+ religious organizations within the state whose loan amounts are available, more than 615 of them received between $150,000 and $350,000.
The Associated Press reported that the U.S. Roman Catholic Church as a whole amassed at least $1.4 billion in aid, a total that could have actually met or exceeded $3.5 billion.
The Paycheck Protection Program is a $659 billion fund created to keep Americans employed through the COVID-19 crisis.
If you’re interested in looking up loans approved by lenders and disclosed by the Small Business Administration, there’s a resource available here.