This one is going to surprise some of my friends, but here goes….
Today’s headlines are reporting that President Obama is going to “strengthen” the Faith-Based Office and programs that funnel government funds to religious organizations for social and humanitarian projects. Story HERE.
I have a suggestion…Close the whole program down. Defund it. Shutter the doors. End it.
What? “But you are in the ministry!” How could this be?
There are two big lies in the world. (Well, not just two, but these are big ones.) “The check is in the mail” and “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”
The government has no business being involved in faith-based initiatives or in partnerships with churches and religious organizations. I opposed this when Bush was in office and I feel no less strongly about it with Obama. It’s a bad, BAD idea.
With the power to tax comes the power to control. That’s why I’m against taxing religious charities and churches.
Conversely, when religious charities and churches take government money, they become entangled with the government. Not smart. They will become dependent upon it. Strings will come. Independence will be ceded in exchange for resources. It’s just not a good idea.
You know the ol’ cliche’ about the “Golden Rule”? “He who has the gold gets to make the rules.” Well, (and I don’t blame them for trying) when the government give money away, they almost always try to get some control with it. (Wouldn’t you?) Already, there are those who want to require certain hiring practices among those who are faith-based and take federal money. In California, that means not being able to discriminate in hiring Gay/Lesbian/Bi-sexual/Transgender folks even if your faith considers that wrong. The policy is now under review at the federal level. (See the article above.)
Churches and the government can work in tandem. On some things like humanitarian crises, they can even work in partnership. But if we don’t want government intrusion on our religious faith, we need to stay out of the money. I don’t want my tax dollars supporting Islamic charities or Mormon building projects. My liberal non-religious friends don’t want their tax dollars building evangelical day schools and supporting Baptist rescue missions either. That’s fine.
What about my article from yesterday decrying the effort to stop funding for schools that have religious organizations using their facilities? Different issue. There is rent involved. If the Muslims want to rent a school auditorium, I don’t have a problem with that as long as they have to pay the same rate as the Athiests, the Baptists and the Cub Scouts. You shouldn’t be excluded or given a different rate simply because you are religious.
But we need to be consistent. The government needs to keep their money and smart faith-based organizations should refuse it. Our Father owns it all anyway — or so we say. If we really believe that, then He’ll meet our needs. We don’t need a Sugar Daddy in Washington helping us out. Maybe we need to be a lot more like George Mueller and simply pray it in. Better yet, when the offering plate comes by, put something in it. What was it James told us about “True Religion”? We should put our money where our mouth is and where we say our heart is.