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Items of interest from various sources of religious news and opinion, in print and on the web.

Wisconsin Court Rules Against Religious Charity. In a narrow 4-3 ruling in March, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that a Catholic social services agency in Superior, Wisconsin, could no longer claim an exemption from paying unemployment tax. The Catholic Charites Bureau, which provides assistance to area disabled, elderly and low income people, is wholly controlled by its Catholic diocese, but that didn’t sway the majority. “The organization is religious,” said the ruling, “but the work is secular.” Opponents of the church have for decades been challenging churches’ exemptions from paying property taxes, but this is the first time a church has been sued to remove its unemployment tax exemption. The church’s lawyers promise to appeal. “The Wisconsin Supreme Court got this case dead wrong,” said Eric Rassbach, vice president and senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a law firm that is representing Catholic Charities. “CCB is religious, whether Wisconsin recognizes that fact or not.” Richmond, Todd. “A Wisconsin ruling on Catholic Charities raises the bar for religious tax exemptions.” Religion., 14 Mar., 2024. Web. 24 Mar., 2024.

Dating Sites May Not Be All That. Most people are acquainted with someone who successfully used an online dating app to find a future spouse. However, writing about dating apps in general (not specifically Christian dating sites), communications professor Kara Alaimo says that the potential downsides may outweigh the benefits. In fact, according to Alaimo, dating apps themselves may be contributing to a dearth in marriages (a record-high 25% of forty-year-olds in America have never been married.) Why? For one thing, many dating sites ask users a slew of questions and claim they’ll use the answers to match them with the right people. Except that decades of academic research says it doesn’t work that way—people’s qualities can’t predict whether they’ll be compatible. Secondly, users can find it hard to make a definite choice when there seems to be an endless number of people to swipe on. This may even have an adverse effect on people who are already in relationships, making them less satisfied with their partner and less committed to the relationship since they believe they can easily find a new partner online. Finally, there is always the possibility of abuse and even violence when making online matches with people who are, after all, strangers. What should people looking for love do? The first step, according to Alaimo, is to “recognize that dating apps aren’t going to do your work for you.” Alaimo, Kara. “A big reason so many Americans are still single.” Opinion., 13 Feb., 2024. Web. 24 Mar., 2024.

Inflation Reduction Act Pays Pentecostals to Plant Trees. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has given $1 million to the Church of God in Christ (COGIC) to plant trees in cities and expand green spaces in urban environments. The money comes from a $1 billion fund created by the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in 2022. Individual congregations will propose local projects. “Faith based . . . organizations are often critical to helping USDA programs reach the communities who need them most,” said cabinet secretary Tom Vilsack. COGIC is the largest Pentecostal church in the United States. Silliman, Daniel. “United States: Church of God in Christ to plant trees.” Gleanings., 18 Mar., 2024. Web. 24 Mar., 2024.

Lutheran Spokesman