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The Split between Church and State


  

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We should pause for a moment to ask what exactly qualifies as a "faith based group". Would Salvation Army or World Vision Canada be considered faith-based groups? If the federal government of Canada gave World Vision a grant for a humanitarian project in the tsunami zone, that could accurately be filed under government funding of a faith-based group, but I wouldn't consider it a blurring of the lines between church and state.

Let's keep in mind that faith-based groups perform a large amount of charitable work, both in the US and in Canada; I suspect that a large portion of the money mentioned in this article was in support of that charitable work.

-kimmy

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We should pause for a moment to ask what exactly qualifies as a "faith based group". Would Salvation Army or World Vision Canada be considered faith-based groups? If the federal government of Canada gave World Vision a grant for a humanitarian project in the tsunami zone, that could accurately be filed under government funding of a faith-based group, but I wouldn't consider it a blurring of the lines between church and state.

It depends on the work they do. If, like the Red Cross, they simply provide aid services to those in need, I wouldn't consider them so much faith based as humanitarian orgianizations operating on religiou sprinciples of charity and kindness. However, there are groups that combine aid services with religious proselytizing.

For instance there are numerous groups, such as including the Southern Baptists' International Mission Board, Gospel for Asia, and the Christian and Missionary Alliance, who use disasters like the recent tsunami to try and covert people, or spread religous teachings unde rthe guise of providing aid (like faith-based groups in Africa working on AIDS programs that preach anti-contraceptive stances).

I find these groups to be distasteful. If you want to do the right thing, great, but can the evengelizing.

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It depends on the work they do. If, like the Red Cross, they simply provide aid services to those in need, I wouldn't consider them so much faith based as humanitarian orgianizations operating on religiou sprinciples of charity and kindness. However, there are groups that combine aid services with religious proselytizing.

...

I find these groups to be distasteful. If you want to do the right thing, great, but can the evengelizing.

I agree with all of that. I wanted to point out that the issue is not as clear cut as compiling a list of Christian organizations that received government money.

I support government funds being used to help humanitarian charities. I don't support government funs being used to "spread the good word". Perhaps some sort of guidelines should be in place? Would that be practical?

-kimmy

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Religion getting gov't funds? Bah. As if they don't collect enough from their congregation anyway. If they want to raise funds to proselytize, let them do it internally. the gov't should only fund secular aid groups, totally unconnected to any particular religion.

At least it appears that Bush is keeping a campaign promise, though. It seems he promised the religious right lots of dough if they elected him, and he is backing it up with the cheques!

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I find these groups to be distasteful. If you want to do the right thing, great, but can the evengelizing.
No doubt BD, somewhere in the connection between me and you on the Internet, there is a religious whacko involved in some way.

Because we hire him indirectly to provide us a communication link, does that mean we also support and encourage his religious beliefs?

It is extremely simplistic, even naive, and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of markets and modern economies to believe that there is an "ethical way to be a consumer".

The government, you and I hire directly and indirectly a variety of individuals to provide services. Who are these individuals? Sorry to let you in on this BD, but the truck driver who delivers food to your local grocery store may well be a raving Nazi. And you give him your money.

----

what is supposed to be a non secular government
Why did Bush Jnr swear on a Bible?
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No doubt BD, somewhere in the connection between me and you on the Internet, there is a religious whacko involved in some way.

Because we hire him indirectly to provide us a communication link, does that mean we also support and encourage his religious beliefs?

It is extremely simplistic, even naive, and shows a fundamental misunderstanding of markets and modern economies to believe that there is an "ethical way to be a consumer".

The government, you and I hire directly and indirectly a variety of individuals to provide services. Who are these individuals? Sorry to let you in on this BD, but the truck driver who delivers food to your local grocery store may well be a raving Nazi. And you give him your money.

Don't be naive. They're not writing blank cheques to whoever toddles in and says "Gimme some money to help them Asians."

I would expect government funded charitable organizations are screened for what their beliefs are and how they do business. I don't think the government should be giving public funds to groups who's purpose is to bring more converts into their fold.

But hey, let's look at it your way: the charitable wing of Hamas build schools and provides aid to people in occupied Palestine and Lebanon. Hamas also has a tendency to recruit people to blow themselves and any innovcent bystanders to bits. Now, according to your logic, it's okay to fund the charitable wing of Hamas even if we disagree with the beliefs of the militant wing because hey: it's impossible to be an ethical consumer.

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This issue, the seperation of church and state, is highly devisive in America today. Often throughout our history issues such as this have grown to the point that they become a defining issue for Americans. We are approaching such a point today, in the opinion of many conservatives like myself. Many believe that in our quest to protect that minority who are not believers, we have run rough-shod over the majority who have a faith.

A little history is necessary: those who took part in the colonial revolution were people of faith who knew that many of their ancestors had fled to America to escape religious persecution - mainly from the "Church of England". That church was an arm of the state, of the king and those who founded America knew the history of religious persecution in England. They were also well aware of the fact that Catholicism was the State religion in most (if not all) Countries of Europe. It was their intent in their design for America to prevent what they believed to be the abuse which followed the establishment of a "State" religion. When the Bill of Rights was adopted, religion was one of the most important freedoms and that principle was stated in the first amendment of that Bill of Rights.

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Note: The underline added by this writer.

I have been watching quite closely and I have not seen the underlined section mentioned or printed in the liberal media in any discussion of the issue of seperation of church and state. Neither, to my knowledge, has the underlined section been the subject of interpretation by the US Supreme Court as to its meaning.

Many believe the original intent of the framers of the Constitution was to prevent the adoption of a "State" religion and confirm the right of inhabitants to the free exercise of any faith. There has been a great deal of emphasis over these last twenty years or so to ban or forbid any convergence between a religious activity and any activity of the State; posting of the Ten Commandments or display of a Nativity scene on property of the State, down to the lowest city or town level, has been banned on the theory that such actions are a violation of the establishment clause. It has reached a point that recently, a California higher Court held that the words "under God" were improperly part of the Pledge of Allegiance.

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag of the United States of America

and to the Republic forĀ  which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

This decision created a firestorm across America and the US Congress (both the House of Representatives and the Senate) swiftly issued a joint statement reaffirming that "under God" was properly and appropriately part of the Pledge. While such a statement had no legal effect upon the Court decision, it was a clear statement that the Court had gone too far and the Court wisely recalled the case and reversed its prior opinion on procedural grounds overlooked in its first decision. The self-proclaimed atheist who filed the Pledge case recently filed a case to prohibit President Bush from giving the Presidential Oath upon a bible. The case was filed too late, in the ordinary course of events, to be scheduled for a hearing prior to the inauguration. Note that there are references in the Constitution to being under "Oath or Affirmation" so it would appear that the case has little merit.

This issue of funds to faith based charities is but one battle in a religious war being fought within America and the above is provided to increase understanding of this contentious issue.

In his first campaign for President one of the issues raised by then candidate Bush was that a great deal of money was being allocated to programs which duplicated the actions of faith based charities and when these government programs were evaluated for effectiveness, they were in no way as successful as those of the faith based groups. He pledged to create a process where funds were to be allocated to such faith based groups who had proved to have a successful program. In the current matter, this is a Federal Grant program where applicants must provide proof that they have an effective program plus who they are, etc. and their expending of the funds is subject to standard federal rules for grant funds plus federal audit procedures. They are unable to use these funds to proselitize for their religion of for any use except that specified in their grant.

As Black Dog suggested, these groups are screened by their grant applications and it's not a matter of payoff for political support but rather an acknowledgement that they get more bang for the buck in such programs.

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