Some churches active in anti-draft efforts have become hot potatoes for insurance companies. The possibility of arson or bombing makes them too great a risk for coverage, the companies think.
Two Unitarian churches suddenly lost more than $1.5 million in fire coverage after they served as “sanctuaries” for draft-protestors.
Arlington Street Church in Boston still can’t get new insurance for its huge $1,400,000 property. American Employers Insurance, its protector for more than sixty years, lowered the boom right after the church became the first to open its doors to draft-protestors.
The Church of the Mediator in Providence, Rhode Island, managed to get $256,000 in coverage from the Hartford Group after Westchester Fire backed out, but only after five other firms refused to touch it, according to the church’s insurance agent. The pastor, the Rev. Albert Q. Perry, called the cancellation “a direct reprisal” for its anti-war and civil-rights activities.
Both companies said they would reconsider cancellation if the churches promised to stop serving as sanctuaries, but the churches refused, according to Perry and Arlington’s Rev. Jack Mendelsohn.
First Unitarian Church, South Bend, Indiana, lost all its insurance in August after arsonists destroyed half the building. The Rev. Joseph Schneiders’s flamboyant political activities there caused loss of half the members last year after an effort to oust him failed.
By contrast, the more traditional First Church of Boston (Unitarian) has had no trouble retaining its coverage though its facilities were gutted by a fire of unknown origin last March. “We have made an effort to stay outl of way-out things,” said its pastor, the Rev. Rhys Williams. “We are concerned about community issues, but ...1
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