A recent article from the examiner.com asks the question in the title of this post. The article engages issues with a government entity known as the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. This organization was put together during the Bush administration in 2001. It aims to provide funding for faith-based and community organization which provide social services of different kinds. There are currently three safeguards in place to preserve the separation of church and state:
- They may not use direct government funds to support inherently religious activities such as prayer, worship, religious instruction, or proselytizing.
- Any inherently religious activities that the organizations may offer must be offered separately in time or location from services that receive federal assistance.
- Faith-based organizations cannot discriminate on the basis of religion when providing services.
The examiner.com article cited above is complaining of “persecution” under Barack Obama’s administration as a result of a fourth stipulation under consideration:
And now we have this, according to the Christian Post (yeah, it’s not on CNN. Go figure):
“Nearly 60 groups are pressing the Obama administration to put an end to a Bush-era policy that allowed federally-funded faith-based groups to hire only fellow believers.”
Why? Is [sic] the economy and skyrocketing unemployment rate so bad that we are going to make churches and ministries across this country hire non-believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
What business is it of theirs? Congress looks at resumes to hire people fresh out of law school to file, copy and gopher. Why not go to the park in D.C. and hire the first homeless guy they see? After all, he’s unemployed and needs a gig. Anyone got dibs on an explanation for this henious [sic] act?
Take it, Mr. President:
“As someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state,” Obama said last July in a speech about expanding Bush’s office of faith-based initiatives. “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help, and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion.”
Are you serious, Captain Could-Care-Less?
Juvenile rhetoric (and syntax!) aside, the author is still way off base. “What business is it of theirs”? It’s their money. Everyone knows government money comes with strings attached, and those strings will always change from one administration to another. The president of the church to which I belong, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, declined funding and had this to say back when Bush first established this entity:
I am in favor of complete separation of church and state, and while we appreciate the offer of federal funding, we like to do [welfare projects] on our own. Once the government is involved, regulations follow.
Many others saw the dangers involved as well and declined funding. Some, however, jumped at the chance and are now upset about a bill under consideration that would tack on that additional safeguard for the government’s money. The author calls it “discrimination”:
If this bill is supposed to be thwart [sic] religious discrimination, where’s the bill to fight the religious discrimination against the churches this bill will create?
Giving free money to churches with strict regulations regarding its use isn’t discrimination in any corner of this planet. Now comes the most ridiculous statement:
Your kids are being tended to Buddhists [sic] during service, your cell groups are being managed by a Satanic priest and maybe that new assistant pastor earned his skins on the wall by traveling as a Mormon missionary.
First off, the author is apparently unaware that the money cannot go towards services provided at the same time or in the same place as any religious service, so no kids will be “tended to Buddhists” during any church services. He needs to pay better attention. I don’t know what “cell groups” are, but I doubt a “Satanic priest” is going to apply for that position, as well. The money cannot go toward hiring a pastor, either, given the first regulation named above, and no LDS missionary has ever “earned his skins on the wall” on his mission. Those skins are earned at seminaries and divinity schools, and they’re allowed to be selective in who they accept. How a church could possibly be forced to hire a Mormon as a pastor (or why a Mormon would be applying) is, of course, not addressed. The attempt to draw an emotive taxonomical relationship (antithetical to Christianity, of course) between Buddhim, Mormonism, and Satanism is obviously the rhetorical priority here. Reason takes a rickety second chair. Gotta make those fundamentalist Christians gag at the mere thought of having a Buddhist watch their children.
As a post-script, this author commits (more than once!) what I believe to be the most abominable indiscretion to ever blight the English language:
Where’s our groups calling for a revolt against cockamamie, universalism litigation like this? Calling our representatives to stand up on behalf of churches everywhere. Or perhaps calling B.S. on this bill?
I wish I knew because there’s some phones that need to be ringing up someone’s speed dial.