Should churches receive government funding without restrictions?

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This is slightly off-topic and will reveal that I sometimes read Parade magazine, but readers of Parade recently voted “No” by a ratio of approximately 4 to1.

Earlier, Parade, which is the most widely read magazine in the United States, had run an article called, “Who should help struggling churches?” According to the article, contributions to churches are down at a time when demands for assistance are rising. $100 million of economic-recovery funding will go to emergency programs, some of which are run directly by religious institutions, and other emergency funds will go to churches as well. Catholic Charities says, “The need for assistance is staggering,” and I have no doubt it is, but Americans United for the Separation of Church and State expressed concern that funding is being given to religious organizations with no safeguards.

Parade is distributed by more than 400 newspapers across the United States. The magazine polled its readers, asking the question, “Should churches receive government funding without restrictions?” The question is obviously a bit of a non sequitur, since the funding in question would be restricted to emergency food and shelter programs, among others. (Yes, money is fungible, but let’s not get into that right now.) The poll is also not particularly scientific, because no pains were taken to get a representative sample.

Nevertheless, at press time for the August 9 issue, 81 % voted “No,” and 19 % voted “Yes.” The poll is still open, and when I checked today the result was 86 % to 14 %. There is no indication how many people responded to the poll.

The August 9 issue featured 2 comments. Under “Yes,” a reader wrote, “Churches don’t discriminate when deciding who[m] to help.… put money in the hands of those who are doing good.” Under “No,” another reader wrote that government funding “goes against our founding principle of the separation of church and state. [Churches] are already tax exempt; that’s enough.” I did not read the on-line comments very carefully, but these seem more or less representative. Some commenters warned against the government’s placing restrictions on religious organizations, and several claimed that the seperation [sic] of church and state is not in the Constitution.

I have cast my vote, but good form prohibits me from revealing how I voted.

8 Comments

Matt wrote: “Nevertheless, at press time for the August 9 issue, 81 % voted “No,” and 19 % voted “Yes.” The poll is still open, and when I checked today the result was 86 % to 14 %.

When PZ over at Pharyngula finds out about this, it’ll be 98% “No” before morning.

“Should churches receive government funding without restrictions?”

Absolutely not, though they and their sheep always seem to think they should. Secular groups and charities that receive funding have significant regulations and restrictions placed on them when they receive government funding. Why should churches be any different? As to that nonsense about churches “giving without discrimination”? Baloney! They refuse to serve LGBT people citing their “religious beliefs”. They frequently require people sit through sermons or even convert to get services. They may require service recipients to adhere to faith-based dogma to keep receiving services. They’re often not subject to all the same health/safety regulations as secular charities are. It’s disgusting that they even take tax dollars to begin with; they certainly shouldn’t do it completely free of regulations of any kind.

I read the AU web page every day to keep up with the nonsense that these churches try to foist off on the taxpayer. GWB was notorious for giving away tax dollars to these liars who used it to fund their church activities, no strings attached! Unfortunately, just recently Obama has called upon the “faith based” supporters to foster fatherhood in America. Why churches should be at the forefront I don’t know, but it’s the same drivel the religious righteous pushed. Soon even the Dishonesty Institute might request funds if it keeps up. I know Microsoft donated money to the DI, supposedly for their work in transportation, but I’m sure there’s no accounting for where that money went. No, there is supposed to be a separation, but the lines have become more blurred in recent years with the conservatives on the prowl.

The separation of church and state seems continually under attack and it should be enforced.Some churches are that in name only, big business set up to avoid paying taxes and I resent that. I do respect that some do good works but even so let them spend their own money and not that of the taxpayer. Betty Markoff

The yes/no choice does not reflect the true range of people’s opinions. The choices should have been between: “No,” and “My church should. But yours should not.”

Without restrictions? Absolutely not! They should be checked out first to assure they are a proper Christian church, not one of those furren places.

wamba said:

Without restrictions? Absolutely not! They should be checked out first to assure they are a proper Christian church, not one of those furren places.

And the only True Christians are ones that Ken Ham likes.

Boy oh boy, Pastor, have you got the wrong number.

Sorry, but I declared that comment spam and, um, exorcised it. – Matt

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on August 11, 2009 8:19 PM.

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