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A Key To Our Salvation?

Personally, I don't need to read any more "letters" to or from Detroit, but at least in this one Detroit native Ryan Mack offers a reasoned, proactive take on seedy businesses, our economic climate and what more we can do to change our material conditions.

Most intriguing to me is the following:

What would happen if churches learned how to combine forces and create economic development corporations? The largest employer in Queens, New York is Floyd Flake of Allen AME Church Cathedral and last I checked he has $30+ million Corporation with over $75 million in real estate assets. Other churches like Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, Harlem Congregations of Community Improvement, and the list goes on across the country of how churches have used their leverage for the greater good of the community. We can do the same in Detroit. If done right, an economic movement of the church can create thousands of jobs for the city of Detroit.

Now, you already know I'm a card-carrying atheist who thinks we give too much credibility to these "men of the cloth." But I'm also realistic when it comes to recognizing the centrality of the church, synagogue and mosque to the lives of many metro Detroiters. And I know that we drop a whole lot of money into the collection plates around this town.

So while I think an idea like this is fraught with peril -- I'm having bad visions, for instance, of churches turning down employment applications from non-believers, followers of other faiths, gays and others whom the pastor won't approve of -- I also can't help but wonder whether there's validity to what Mack is putting forward.

Even if I'm not yet ready to agree with him, do you? Whatever your position on faith and religion, do you think Detroit houses of worship can and should develop a broad-scale cooperative effort to attack the city's worst problems? Are there examples that are working already? How much should the city and state encourage this type of cooperative economics?

And what're the risks?

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