Accusation of bias is unfair
Thursday, September 6, 2012
The Lyndeborough selectmen just can’t win. Under fire for months over their handling of the town’s Police Department, suddenly they find themselves accused of bias against the local church.
The selectmen believe that the United Church of Lyndeborough should pay property tax on a piece of land north of the church because, they have said, it isn’t being used for worship services.
Church officials disagree, but as far as we can tell, have provided nothing but anecdotal “proof” of such use.
And recently, the church’s pastor, Paul Lemire, said that denying the tax exempt status proved the selectmen’s bias against the church, according to a report filed by our Jessie Salisbury.
We can’t understand how Pastor Lemire would reach that conclusion since it appears to be up to the church to prove that it should be tax exempt and church officials haven’t done that.
What are the selectmen to do in such circumstances? They can’t just take the church officials’ word for it.
No, we are not implying that church officials would make it up, it’s just that the selectmen have legal requirements to follow and to do anything else would be to open the flood gates to, say, someone who never served in the armed forces but wants the veteran’s tax exemption without having to show discharge papers.
If there are worship services taking place on the property, surely there must be a way for church officials to indicate that. A photo? Descending upon the next selectmen’s meeting with people willing to testify that they do, indeed, worship there in regular services?
Accusing officials, or anyone, of bias is an easy way to deflect scrutiny from the real issue, and the issue here is clear: Does the United Church of Lyndeborough deserve tax-exempt status on this piece of land?
All the church has to do is show proof.