Monday, November 29, 2010

No more sermons at the soup kitchen

No more sermons at the soup kitchen.

Government must stay neutral when it comes to religion. It cannot support one religion over another nor can it even have the appearance of supporting one over another.

Yet, under President Bush, faith based organizations could deliver federal aid while preaching their form of religion. Churches and other religious organizations, under President Bush’s executive order, could deliver federal aid, such as the operation of a soup kitchen, while they were delivering a sermon.

That is changing. President Obama has amended the executive order issued by President Bush mandating the separation of the normal functions of a church and the delivery of federal aid.

Faith based organizations, no matter what calling, should not be able to deliver federal aid of any kind. This is a much too close relationship between God and Country. Whenever this happens, it is much too easy for anyone, especially those that are receiving the aid, to draw the conclusion that there is something special with this religion. Especially if the members of the church are preaching while having dinner.

President Obama’s amended of the order mandates the separation of the two activities, which is a start at getting local religious organizations out of federal aid delivery. The president’s order also goes a step farther. The amendment requires the government to “monitor and enforce standards regarding the relationship between religion and government in ways that avoid excessive entanglement between religious bodies and government entities.”

Don’t forget, in England during the pre American colonial days, religion and government went hand in hand. You were required to be a particular religion, depending on who was in power at the time. If you were protestant and the state religion was catholic, as it was under Queen Mary of Scots, you needed to change. Even tax dollars collected from a protestant would in part be delivered to the catholic church for support, but none to the protestant church. [ The Church of England, a legitimate religion by any standard, was separated from the Catholic Church by Henry the Eighth in an effort to support his government and provide legitimacy for his personal activities. It was, by some conclusions, not only a state religion, but one created for the state.]

In the Constitution, in a plan to make sure that state supported religion doesn’t happen in the new country, the signers wrote in the opening lines of the first amendment that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” They also made very clear in the document that no religious test would be provided to elected officials, providing even further evidence that they wanted to keep religion out of government functions.

By placing a seal of approval on certain religious organizations to dole out federal aid, it appears to support that religious organization. If that money was going to catholic organizations, Queen Mary would be very pleased. But, we in the United States should not be.


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