A Confused Rant

17 May, 2009

Today is Friday.  Well, it is my Friday.  Two days off.  (((Wife))) knows that, after a long week dealing with both the public and the coworker, I need to relax.  So of course, as soon as I sit down to play Blitzkrieg on the computer, she shows me an article from, of all things, Parade Magazine.  The title? “Who Should Help Struggling Churches?”  And it is actually a rather fair article.

Barry Lynn (of Americans United for Separation of Church and State) is featured prominently.  The article points out, quite correctly, that

there are no effective regulations in place to prevent churches from engaging in religious discrimination when hiring or to stop them from using government money to promote their religion through soup kitchens or shelters.

Lynn is careful to not rule out any contact between the government and churches.  His point, and it is one with which I agree, is that any organization, religious or secular, which accepts government money must also accept the civil rights protections attached to that money.  If a church wants government help to pay for charitable work, then they have to play by the same rules as all the others.

Of course, the problem with that (and one which I still haven’t figured out the answer (other than an absolute prohibition against any religious organization ever receiving any government money)) is the church then has more money for recruitment outside of the charitable  situations.  They can use money set aside for feeding the hungry to put up anti-atheist billboards.

Times like this, I almost wish I were an absolutist authoritarian conservative.  Then I would never see the damn gray areas.

At the Parade Magazine website, there is a survey asking:  “Should churches receive government funding without restrictions?”  And right now, only 22% say yes.



  1. You play Blitzkrieg too?! Which version?

    • The previous generation. I have the next one (Blitzkrieg II) but can’t get it to run.

      My favourite strategy game was Tanks, but it requires old-fashioned reserved memory and I cannot get my newer computers to do that, either.

  2. I have 3 versions on my PC: Blitzkrieg 2, Blitzkrieg 2 – Fall of the Reich, and Blitzkrieg II Liberation. The first one, I’ve completed the Russian and USA Campaign, but I got stuck at some of the levels for the other 2.

    I also enjoyed Splinter Cell, Assassin’s Creed, Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon.

  3. As of this morning, the poll is 86% saying No to unrestricted funds.

    I used to think some religious groups did decent work and did give money to Salvation Army to help with their homeless programs — and then a few years they very publicly refused a large donation from the gay rodeo association. It’s odd — I was willing to tolerate the Bible banging in a general way (they are a church, after all), but when they got into targeted homophobic hateful behavior I stopped dropping coins into the kettles.

  4. Nan: The thing is, I really am torn about this. On the one hand, some religious groups do some very good things. But, if the government funds that part of the church activity, will the church keep their money in the pot? or will they shift it to recruiting or other far less useful activities? Bleah.

  5. I also enjoyed the Parade piece. My experience has been that, when churches get government money to run secular/charitable programs, then their other funds are freed up for their evangelistic/worship endeavors. So, yes, government funding of church-run charities does indirectly fund church ministries because

    a) their total pot gets bigger, and
    b) they often don’t add other funds to the government funds to pay for the charitable programs.

    Quite often, if the government funds dry up, the charitable programs shrink or die, depending on whether the organization can find the funds (either internally or externally) to keep the program running.

    I’ll add that organizational accountability for the use of government funds used to be quite stringent. That accountability loosened up a lot in recent years.

  6. Chappie: And hopefully, accountability will be tightened up again.

    Wasn’t one of the right-wing memes for many years that the government should not be in the business of providing for the general welfare — that should be the job of the charitable groups. Of course, once the economy goes south, when more people need the services, the charitable contributions tend to dry up. Dry up to the point where the church itself may be in danger of going under, not just the charitable program.

    Damn, sometimes I hate gray.

  7. It’s even worse than you guys can imagine, especially here in Australia.

    Interesting talk about Australian charities on radio recently, podcast and transcript: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/backgroundbriefing/stories/2009/2568880.htm#transcript

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