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Separation of Church and State applies to the spending of our tax dollars

 

It’s common knowledge that the taxes we pay are necessary to support our military, social services, social security, education, police and fire services, legislative salaries, teacher salaries, and myriad other programs. Our infrastructure, the basic facilities and installations on the continuance and growth of a community depends on and is driven by the taxes we pay. Taxes are essential, and on that, everyone agrees.

Periodically we need to investigate how our taxes are being spent and the organizations that are being supported by our taxes. It is our duty and responsibility to pay our taxes but also our obligation to not just request but demand and expect accountability. It is our duty to demand publication of who receives our taxes, and those religious organizations receiving tax dollars for their ministries must be expected to keep within the laws that guide how tax dollars are expended.

The “Faith-based” initiative promoted by the Bush administration has the mission of channeling funding into religious organizations. Taxes paid by Methodists, Unitarians, Mormons, Baptists, American Muslims, members of the Jewish faith are all supporting ministries selected by the federal government.

One problem with faith-based approach is that someone has to decide which faith gets the “initiative.” Thus religious ministries receiving tax dollars agree with the administration’s conservative theological view. They are receiving the bulk of tax funding.

The watchdog organization Americans United, through their newsletter Church and State, is daily working to educate and alert us to abuse of such funding for ministries. AU announced two cases of this misappropriation of our tax dollars as reported by the Rev. Barry Lynn.

AU, in a suit against a marriage counseling program in Washington State, the Justice Department:

…”saw no problem funding a program that counseled women that Christ was the head of the church, so the husband was the head of the family.

“However, another faith-based counseling group failed to get a grant because during its counseling sessions it stated the objectively true fact that some women do not find it easy to leave abusive relationships precisely because they believe they adhere to a ‘ husband-rules-the-roost’ philosophy based on their own earlier biblical instruction.”

AU noted that is was not surprising but sad to see foreign assistance is also being directed to groups with particular religious philosophies., even those that promote discrimination and whose policies end up harming the very people they were intended to serve.

According to AU, Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse received millions in government aid including a grant to build a new hospital in warring Angola, though the Boston Globe has reported that Graham’s hospital is hardly neutral territory. It will not allow Catholic Chaplains to visit the sick, and refuses to hire nurses who are not evangelical Christians.

Since there are many public health institutions that could benefit from US assistance, it must be questioned why a group with such noxious policies was moved to the top of the list. Imagine if some American hospital hired only fundamentalist Christian and the staff preached conservative theology to every patient?

AU lifts a prophetic voice so we can be better informed and have a more developed viewpoint on how our tax dollars are spent by religious ministries. I believe in the multitude of faith ministries; they do good work. However, let each of them support themselves whether in America or overseas. These ministries are obligated to follow federal regulations.

All illustrated here become examples for the conscience of America. The erosion of the Constitution in recent years is disturbing, and the laxness in enforcement and the granting of exceptions to government regulations is deplorable, even and perhaps for faith groups.

Let’s express our opinions when we object to such abuses in the use of our tax dollars.


About Rev. Charles Moreland

    Rev. Charles Moreland

    Rev. Charles Moreland, retired, has lived in Clarksville for seven years and holds great pride in his adopted city and its people. His one objection in Tennessee is the Hall law of taxes on dividends and savings. Charles served in the U.S. Army Chaplaincy from 1966-1986, retiring to serve as a United Methodist pastor near Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He serves on the Boards of Directors for the ARP, Roxy Theater and MCDP. Though retired, he is a regular speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. His five grandchildren, ages two to thirteen years, live in Evansville, Indiana. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War and served in Germany and Korea while on active duty.

    Email: MLPmoreland@aol.com

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