Each year, we strive to return unclaimed property to rightful owners. Folks who have lost track of their assets run the gamut — individuals, businesses, estates and churches.
Yes, houses of worship are doing the Lord’s work but to broadly paraphrase the Bible, no one’s perfect. Governing boards change, ministers come and go, congregations undergo turnover and so on. It’s no surprise a few things get lost in the shuffle.
We recently took the initiative of reaching out to those churches which had unclaimed property due them. We returned approximately $35,000 in a month, including $22,000 presented to four churches, a church foundation and Habitat for Humanity. Those funds were disbursed in early December, in the Charleston-Huntington area. A couple of weeks before, we presented a total of $12,000 to three churches in Mason, Jackson and Wood counties.
My point is not to trumpet what we’ve done. I understand the importance belief plays in people’s lives. My personal faith has guided my life since I was a young boy and will continue to do so.
The world seemed an easier place back then. The United States lived in a vacuum, at least domestically. The idea of someone invading our soil was inconceivable, to say nothing of repeated acts of terrorism. But it happened and our world has never been the same.
An outgrowth of that event: religion is an object of divisiveness in these troubled times. Let’s work to change that. Common sense leads us to believe that not everyone of another faith is evil. It’s time for Christians to be as close to Christ-like as we can. Let’s not start turning against neighbors who we know to be good people. That’s not the America I have known.
It is up to the federal government to arrive at policies which protect us against terrorism. We have every right to voice whatever opinion we have along those lines. But in our personal dealings and in our hearts please don’t give in to hate. Jesus said love and pray for your enemies. Easier said than done sometimes, but he commanded us to do just that.
In the meantime, we will continue to look up the rightful owners of unclaimed property, including those in the religious community. Those funds will be returned without prejudice. You can count on it.
John D. Perdue is West Virginia’s 24th state treasurer and is currently serving his fifth term in office.