Discussing
Speaking Religiously

Steven Koster

Arshield
February 23, 2009

I would say that the point of these rules are not to prevent you from becoming too religious but to allow you to be religious. Remember what we are talking about is not the right of a religious organization to hire who it wants, but the right of a religious organization to hire who it wants using public funds.<br><br>Think of another example. Should organizations be allow to not hire any African Americans with government funds?<br><br>If you really believe something you should be willing to stand up and still believe it even when it becomes difficult. <br><br>My issues with many of the faith based stuff (and I speak as a consultant to churches that want to start new non-profit ministries and I specialize in government funding so I have thought about this a lot) is that what many orgs say that they do that makes the difference is share the gospel. Pretty much no one disputes that using government funds to share the gospel is inappropriate. So under what reasons should you be accepting government money. Orgs needs to spend some serious time talking about this before they apply or accept government money.

Bethanykj
February 23, 2009

I agree with Arshield, but I think it is even more important that this avoids the state sponsoring a particular church or set of churches. Imagine if the majority of these organizations are, say, catholic, and they only hire long-term, practicing catholics. Catholic unemployment goes down, and stays high in other sects. Suddenly it seems that the government decided that catholics deserve social service jobs. I understand the suspicion, because I don't think the government should make any religion more economically or socially advantageous than others - isn't that what the establishment clause is about?

SiarlysJenkins
February 23, 2009

Once upon a time, church social services were staffed by members of that church. The Roman church was a particularly strong example: they had armies of priests and nuns, and monks and lay brothers and sisters who actually did the work of the church social service agencies, right down to beside care of the sick. Now, most church social service agencies HIRE people to staff the hands-on work, with perhaps a few dedicated believers handling management. In the former situation, they could do whatever their faith dictated. In the latter, they are an employer, in the secular sense. The same is true of taking government funds. That makes them an arm of public policy. Those who don't want public policy to interfere with the practice of their faith have a simple option: don't take government money, and don't hire others to do your work for you. If there aren't enough faithful to staff the intended work, either scale back what your faith can take on to what your faithful will commit to, or, accept the price of being a public agency.<br><br>Now as to the impact of "hate speech" laws on churches, there is a very well-established body of judicial decisions, generally known as "church autonomy in matters of faith and doctrine." For matters internal to the church, you can say whatever you believe, and courts will not entertain "harassment" or "hate speech" lawsuits. Those who don't want to hear it don't have to be in the church. That IS what the establishment clause, and the free exercise clause, are all about.

Dlpicolet
February 24, 2009

To be honest, I'm not really sure of your position on the issue... however, you wrote, "Pretty much no one disputes that using government funds to share the gospel is inappropriate."<br><br>Is this in regards to those inside or outside the church? I work with a guy who has a huge problem with public funds being used in such a way.<br><br>If I understand the original post, the author is saying they feel the rules are specifically geared to erradicat such a thing as sharing the gospel if you desire public funds or choose to hire only within your particular creed. IOW, if you as an org want to do that, no more public funds for you. The result would be that only orgs willing to serve but "shutup" would get funds.<br><br>Personally I don't know if I necessarily have a problem with that. Let men judge us by our good deeds. God knows we've been judged by society for our empty rhetoric for years, and look where it's gotten us. Perhaps we need to zip it, be the good Samaritan, and let God speak to those who come for help, yes? <br><br>If someone really wants to know why we do what we do, they'll find out on their own. Not to mention, can you imagine this playing out? <br>"Why do you help us?"<br> "I can't tell you."<br>"Yet you do it anyway."<br> "Yes I do."<br><br>One other question in regards to you saying, "Pretty much no one disputes that using government funds to share the gospel is inappropriate." <br><br>Would you be okay with someone saying, "Pretty much no one disputes that using government funds to share the truth of Allah, PBOH, is inappropriate. ", or " Pretty much no one disputes that using government funds to discredit Christianity is inappropriate."<br><br>If it's okay for us, it has to be okay for everyone.<br><br>Don't know if I'm reading you wrong, so let me know what you think... 8^)

Marc
February 24, 2009

Hear hear! The idea that Agnosticism is itself struggling for supremacy among religions needs desperately to be developed in public discourse.<br><br>Now, whatever happened to religious freedom within the law of the land? Our nations are becoming increasingly desensitised to the difference between good religion and bad religion - maybe it's a veil or something. Places like Uganda are discovering the on-the-ground salvation Christianity brings and America is rejecting it for the absurd, yet thinly-veiled reason, that religions can be dangerous. How ridiculous to reject good religion because of bad ones.

Arshield
February 24, 2009

I think you are reading me wrong and it is probably because of my double negative. I am saying using government funds to share the gospel, or about Allah or Wicca, is inappropriate. <br><br>I am not saying that using other funds to share in an appropriate way is wrong. I know of several models that I think are both legal and appropriate.<br><br>One easy one to understand that I know of is a church based non-profit where the church provides chaplains to serve the clients of the non-profit. The non-profit is government supported and does a lot of good work, but their staff does not share the gospel. The church supported chaplains do share the gospel.

Bethanykj
February 24, 2009

wow, I really disagree with you here. I think it is in the interest of our freedom to worship in spirit and in truth that the government not have any part in promoting, regulating or funding our churches. Just because you think the government might support the churches you like now doesn't keep them from turning on us if we stand up to some unjust policy.

SiarlysJenkins
February 25, 2009

I generally agree with Bethany. In particular, it is no business of government to sort out which religions are good and which are bad. That is a choice each of us make, or its between each of us and God. The government is incompetent to judge. And if you look at religion in Uganda, don't forget the Lord's Resistance Army, which is responsible for child slavery, kidnapping, brutal rapes and dismemberment, all in the name of Jesus. (I know, Jesus most likely doesn't approve, but that is one form of on-the-ground salvation Christianity in Uganda).<br><br>Marc does have a point about Agnosticism -- not that there is an organized Agnosticism struggling for supremacy, but that many in our culture have come to believe that nonestablishment of religion means nobody should talk about it in public. That is not what the First Amendment provides. It provides that the government shall not ESTABLISH any religion, nor "prohibit the free exercise thereof." Individual religious speech, in public, is specifically protected. We need to reassert that principle of law in any public discussion about the role of religion.

Matt
February 25, 2009

Right on Bethany. I'm not a firm believer in allowing prayer back in schools. I think equal rights will be enforced and children will be required to pray in Jesus name on Monday, to Allah on Wednesday, and a different Hindu icon every Friday of the year.<br><br>Let the church handle the church. Let the government stay seperate.<br><br>Matt<br><a href="http://www.christiantwopointoh.com" rel="nofollow">Christian2.0</a>

Marc
February 25, 2009

I'm not sure what you disagree with - my cry of agreement applies to the last paragraph of the post. The rest of my comment is about secular government's increasing failure to distinguish between religions which harm society and those which help it. They've descended to simplistic thinking which says that if terrorists are religious then all religion must be bad.<br><br>Most modern, benevolent states want people to be happy, healthy and peaceable tax-payers. There are religions which fit nicely into that mould and those that are subversive. I don't mean the government is infallible in deciding which religion is good but we know that the standards they generally use (pragmatic ones) would give Christians more religious freedom and credence. Of course if the state goes bad we need to take a stand.

Mike
February 26, 2009

"One the one hand, Americans favor public funding of social services through religious groups, like Catholic Social Services. We want our religion to do good things for people."<br><br>So true, people want the church to do good things but want to take away their motivation for doing so.<br>Mike<br><a href="http://crosscampusministry.com" rel="nofollow">http://crosscampusministry.com</a>

Bethanykj
February 26, 2009

I agree with SiarlysJenkins that it's no business of the government to differentiate "good" and "bad" religions. More importantly, you think that Christianity isn't subversive??? I beg to differ.

John
February 27, 2009

Okay, I work for God, enough said. If you have to use something or someone to worship God or get out the gospel, then look again. The apostles did not have money, they depended on the kindness of others. Let us do the same, in God's Grace John

Marc
March 2, 2009

I'm sure you would want your government to block satanism as a "bad" religion would you not? How about radical Islam? It is indeed a governments role to see that laws are obeyed and that's what I am refering to.<br><br>Of course Christianity is subversive of the world's value system and that's the positive sense of "subversive". What I mean is it's not subersively dangerous (in terms of violence) to western governments which are internally peacable. That is why Christians are not considered a problematic element in western society as are certain other religions.<br><br>This is getting a bit off track but my point is that governments are losing sight of the social good Christianity can do and us chanting "we're subversive" and bombing abortion clinics is not helping that image. Our task is to show the world another way of being subversive, Jesus' way and not fight fire with fire.

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