Just say no to religion in politics

Christopher Taylor

What would Jesus do?

Probably not give taxpayer dollars to “faith-based” institutions. Throughout this column, please be aware that I will be inserting “faith-based” with sarcastic quotes. What does “faith-based” even mean? Should the government fund the Church of Satan’s charitable works? I don’t think so.

I am in no way against organized religion. The inalienable right to freedom of religion ensured by our Constitution has commanded that the president and government not infringe.

I personally belong to a Grace Brethren megachurch, which operates a great deal of community-benefiting programs. Though I do not speak for all members of the church, it is my understanding that many of them are opposed to the government attempting to shove their rules, regulations and opinions on them. Have I mentioned the separation of church and state?

I would rather see funding go to community-based groups with no religious affiliation. Sure, free money is great for small organizations already struggling to pay the bills. But let’s be honest, funding a group affiliated with a church leaves the program vulnerable to be influenced and corrupted by the religious agenda.

I am aware that these “faith-based” groups are not technically allowed to present their religious preferences while using the government’s money to help people – but I doubt that the institutions truly abide by those rules. Did I mention the separation of church and state?

Whatever happened to the separation of church and state stipulated in Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptists? This type of funding is illegal on the basis that it provides grants directly to churches. As Americans, we must be concerned that our taxes are being applied in useful ways, but also that they are not breaking the law.

Credit must be given to the government for withholding funds when a “faith-based” group is caught spouting its religious interests on the taxpayer’s dime. Last year, The Washington Post reported that the Feds pulled a $75,000 grant from the Silver Ring Thing, saying that the group offered a religious perspective to its abstinence-only platform. The government only acted after the American Civil Liberties Union sued.

Separation of church and state, anyone?

In 2004, the last year it reported, the Centers for Disease Control funded nine “faith-based” institutions to combat rising HIV/AIDS rates. I question the intentions of these groups who are pressing their overwhelmingly abstinence-only crap onto a bunch of people who would benefit from a different message.

The Advocates for Youth’s Web site estimates a majority of youth are having sex, and roughly half are doing it without the use of a condom. I doubt that the “faith-based” institutions have much of an influence with their scare tactics and virginity sermons. It would make too much sense to pass out condoms and talk about safe-sex, but the “faith-based” groups can’t address it without fearing they will essentially be sponsoring sex. Oh – did I mention the separation of church and state?

My eyes have been opened by the reality that this government cannot even fund existing services that are so important to this country’s function. Why can’t we fund our public schools properly or combat poverty with volunteers who genuinely want to help others, and not attempt to convert?

Christopher Taylor is a senior nursing major and a point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].