Government Funding of Religion

Social Justice Surprise by Stephen Monsma talks in glowing terms of how government money is being used to prosletyze.

What percentage of evangelical programs receive government funding?
One of the surprises was that more evangelical programs were receiving government funding—51 percent, versus 40 percent of the mainline programs.

This carried through also when you looked at the amount of funding: 38 percent of the evangelical programs reported receiving more than half of their funding from the government, compared to 31 percent for mainline programs.

To me this looks like government favoritism twoard evangelical churches. But I could just be paranoid.

What do you say to critics who see incorporating evangelism and religious values as a violation of church-state separation?

Many evangelical programs, when they have Bible studies or devotional activities, make them voluntary. Many of these efforts to encourage clients to make religious commitments are done with private money at a time separate from the other services. That’s a partial answer.

But even more fundamentally, we know that government funding cannot be used for sectarian worship, instruction, or proselytizing. Yet those words are not self-defining. If welfare-to-work staff reassure recipients that Jesus loves them, that work is a way to honor God, and that we all have a calling to fulfill in life—is that sectarian instruction? I think not.

Now the ACLU might disagree with me on that. But to me, this is using broad Christian values to help people overcome tremendous obstacles in becoming economically self-sufficient. I attended similar classes at secular nonprofit organizations. They also used values—non-religious values. They would talk about earning the respect of your family by going out to work or feeling better about yourself. But both evangelical and secular programs use values to motivate and improve the self-esteem of their clients.

Talking about Jesus to the your more or less captive audience isn’t religious at all. Right? You aren’t kidding the ACLU might disagree! So would all the Christians–probably those mainline Christians–who thought Jesus was a religious figure!

In order to enrich themselves with government money and use that government money to spread their religion, they are forced to deny the divinity of Jesus. They are lying, of course, but Peter was lying when he denied his association with Jesus. Do I hear a cock’s crow?

thanks to Red State Rabble for this tip.

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