|"What do you mean|
I'm 90 days late?"
The surge in church foreclosures represents a new wave of distressed property seizures triggered by the 2008 financial crash, analysts say, with many banks no longer willing to grant struggling religious organizations forbearance.
The church foreclosures have hit all denominations across America, but with small to medium size houses of worship the worst. Most of these institutions have ended up being purchased by other churches in a kind of corporate take-over.
The highest percentage have occurred in some of the states hardest hit by the home foreclosure crisis: California, Georgia, Florida and Michigan.
"Churches are among the final institutions to get foreclosed upon because banks have not wanted to look like they are being heavy handed with the churches," said Scott Rolfs, managing director of Religious and Education finance at the investment bank Ziegler.
Church defaults differ from residential foreclosures. Most of the loans in question are not 30-year mortgages but rather commercial loans that typically mature after just five years when the full balance becomes due immediately, which with falling donations due to the economy, have left many churches struggling.
Its common practice for banks to refinance such loans when they come due. But banks have become increasingly reluctant to do that because of pressure from regulators to clean up their balance sheets.
The factors leading to the boom in church foreclosures will sound familiar to many private homeowners evicted from their properties in recent years.
During the property boom, many churches took out additional loans to refurbish or enlarge, often with major lenders or with the Evangelical Christian Credit Union, which was particularly aggressive in lending to religious institutions.
Then after the financial crash, many churchgoers lost their jobs, donations plunged, and often, so did the value of the church building.
Most churches fell victim to the infamous balloon loan, a long-term loan, often a mortgage, that has a large, or balloon, payment due upon maturity. They often have very low interest payments and require little capital outlay during the life of the loan due to the large end payment.
Right-wingers might argue that these churches were purchased by people who bought more church than they could afford. After all it's never the holiest of institutions who are ever to blame - the big banks. If there was a market for bundling and packaging human souls as investments you know who would be the first to introduce them to investors.
Capitalism doesn't have to worry however, because it doesn't have a soul.