All taxpayers are created equal

Q:If a church or other religious organization receives government funding, should it follow all government rules, including those against discrimination … Continued

Q:If a church or other religious organization receives government funding, should it follow all government rules, including those against discrimination based on sexual orientation? Or should government exempt such organizations from requirements that violate particular religious beliefs?

If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to discriminate on the basis of your religion. These are not my words, but the words of a well-known former Constitutional Law professor from the University of Chicago. Presidential candidate Barack Obama delivered them in a speech about faith-based initiatives in Zanesville, Ohio, on July 1, 2008.

Despite his own admirable words, President Obama still lets stand this Bush-era violation of separation of church and state. Rather than simply prohibiting faith-based discrimination completely, the administration says discrimination will be decided on a case-by-case basis. I oppose the use of any taxpayer money going to religious institutions, but especially money that condones discrimination. Religious freedom allows religions to discriminate, but not on the taxpayer’s dime.

The Obama administration did the right thing in the case of Catholic Charities by not exempting them from the laws of the land. And Catholic Charities certainly has the right to formulate discriminatory policies consistent with its religious principles, but not while taking taxpayer money.

By the government not providing such religious exemptions, I’m hoping some religions will modify their discriminatory policies. This happened gradually with a religion, which some call an academic institution, in my home state of South Carolina. Fundamentalist Christian Bob Jones University, in danger of losing its tax-exempt status, changed in steps from not admitting blacks, to admitting married blacks (1971), to admitting unmarried blacks (1975), and finally (gasp) to ending its ban on interracial dating (2000).

If religious freedom means anything, it means that government can’t favor one religion over another, or religion in general over non-religion. We must not promote an Orwellian society where all people are equal under the law, but some people are more equal than others.

Herb Silverman
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  • beersnob1

    Glad you mentioned SC. Water Missions International, a well intentioned charity I’m sure, received nearly 200K in government grants in 2008. When I tried to volunteer with them after Katrina, I was discriminated against, because I was not a fundamentalist Christian. This I found personally offensive and outrageous. The fact that I am taxed, ie. EXTORTED, and my money is given to “faith based” charities that proselytize a message of ignorance and hate at my expense angers me beyond words. The administration’s continued support of stealing my money and giving it to halo-wearing dirtbags sickens me.

  • pelicanwatchcb

    Bob Jones University should provide an example to all religious bigots and absolutists. Yes, BJU has been backing away from — and apologizing for — its heaven-ordained policy of racial discrimination for many years. Ditto, the Southern Baptist Convention. What will these superstitious fools be apologizing for tomorrow? As for giving government money to practicing bigots, don’t do it. If they want to take the money, they have to play by the rules. That’s the kind of practical understanding of life that most children grasp by the age of 10. It should apply to religious adults, as well.

  • dangeroustalk

    Catholic Church’s attempt to blackmail Washington failsBack in November, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington DC gave our nation’s capital an ultimatum that if they pass laws in favor of same-gender marriage that the Church would stop many of their social service programs which would help in adoptions, homelessness, and health care.The DC Archdiocese used the Churches charitable services as a way to blackmail the city into discriminating against an entire class of people who are not necessarily even Catholic. The city responded by passing a law recognizing the equal rights of those in the gay community anyway. The fact is that charity ought not to be contingent on what mythology someone believes in or in this case who a person loves. If charity is contingent on factors other than need, then it really isn’t all that charitable. You can read the rest of my response to this topic:I will be responding to every issue posted in the ‘On Faith’ section. If you would like to be notified when my new response is up, please subscribe.

  • YEAL9

    The RCC is not alone in not recognizing same-sex unions (some would describe it as “mutual masturbation”- see the over 1.4 million Google/Bing hits for added information)From Wikipedia’s review on same-sex unions:”Not recognizedThe religious traditions or institutions that do not recognize same-sex marriage tend to view homosexuality as immoral. The degree to which it is considered immoral—or even whether or it is immoral at all—often varies according to the adherents within them, especially in large institutions like the Roman Catholic Church. These traditions or institutions do not recognize same-sex unions in any form or in any congregation: ChristianityPentecostal(A Vatican document approved by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI in 2003[13] regards homosexuality as an “intrinsical disorder”, claims that a “person engaging in homosexual behaviour acts immorally” and “reminds the governments of the need to contain the phenomenon [of homosexuality] within certain limits so as to safeguard public morality”. Eastern Orthodox ChurchOrthodox OthersBahá’í Faith

  • WisemanD1

    It is perplexing why “true believers” are so unkindly judgmental … perhaps they should ponder the plea from their Galilean messiah in Matthew 25 and Paul’s call for loving temperance in I Corinthians 13.

  • YEAL9

    There are different opinions as to what a religion really is or what a non-profit is. To be fair therefore, there should be no tax-exemptions for any group and that includes the Democratic and Republican Parties. Faith and community initiative grant monies should also be cancelled and there should also be no tax deductions for contributions made to charities and non-profits like the Secular Coalition for America.Would this generate the added taxes needed to pay for universal health care??

  • jonesm2

    Just out of curiosity, why do we still have to swear on a Bible when testifying in court? Doesn’t the separation of church and state cover the courts as well? It seems that we should have a secular method for swearing in.

  • Freestinker

    “Just out of curiosity, why do we still have to swear on a Bible when testifying in court?”————-JonesM2,You don’t have to swear on anything in Court. All you must do is raise your right hand and “affirm to tell the truth”. No Bibles or other Holy books are ever required!

  • FarnazMansouri

    Same sex marriages have been performed in synagogues for years.

  • FarnazMansouri

    Houses of worship should not receive government funding for governmental service delivery. Period. Our commitment to separation of “church” and state demands that those services to which Americans are entitled be provided either directly by government employees or by nonsectarian agencies.Moreover, religious institutions should no longer be tax exempt. Nonprofit status for such entities was never acceptable, and is less so in these times of economic distress.As for not hiring those of one’s faith, I suspect that will not stand up against the Establishment clause except in those instances when sectarian credentials are clearly called for.Finally, since lobbying by religious institutions has clearly resulted in legislation consistent with religionist demands, that lobbying must no longer be permitted. It is tantamount to establishment.Separation of church and state, long overdue.

  • iconoclast8

    I’m saddened to discover Water Missions International is captained by arch supernaturalists, as their aim is simple, cost-effective, and has world-wide applicability. I sympathize with BEERSNOB1, as I also requested a charity not supernatural-based in the post-Katrina period, and I was directed to the governments of North Korea, Cuba, and China by a group which turned out to supernatural-controlled. It took me a few seconds to glean the respondant’s meaning, but clearly I would find commonality with these other non-Christian folk, you know, the communists!

  • haveaheart

    It seems that a good many churches don’t recognize that having tax-exempt status means that they’re being funded by taxpayers. They insist that they don’t accept government funding (the Mormon church) or that the government grants they get are used for non-sectarian purposes.In fact, any organization that is granted tax-exempt status is being government-funded with taxpayer dollars. Consequently, ANY church that accepts tax-exempt status should not be permitted to discriminate in ANY area of its operations, since the underlying foundation of their structures is tax-free status.Think of how much money churches with extensive properties are raking in each year as a result of tax-exempt status. Particularly, the wealthier churches — e.g., Catholic, Mormon, TV evangelicals, etc. In these cases, tax-exempt status has enabled churches to amass astounding fortunes, money which finds its way into very few needy hands.If these multi-billion-dollar corporations are allowed to continue taking advantage of American taxpayers, then they should at least pay a fair price: non-discrimination in ALL areas of their operations.Anything less should be criminal.

  • YEAL9

    “HOMOSEXUALITY IN ORTHODOX JUDAISMTHE CLASSIC TORAH VIEW OF HOMOSEXUALITYi.e. two men having sexual relations, is prohibited (SOURCE #1). The act is twice called a “Toaivaan abomination” and it is such a severe sin, that it merits the death penalty in a Jewish court systemIf not for the fact that homosexuality is prevalent in Western Society today, there”is not his wife, ACTING upon this desire violates the seventh of the Ten Commandments.Similarly, while the Torah may understand the homosexual desire, acting upon it is forbidden.Therefore, the Midrash specifically says (SOURCE #16) that a Jew should NOT say “I have no desire for that which is forbidden (pork or even another man),” but a Jew SHOULD say “what can I do, since God has commanded me not to act upon these desires.” EVERY society, even secularwww.lookstein.org/retrieve.php?ID

  • FarnazMansouri

    Judaism has been performing same sex marriages for decades. There are also gay rabbis and their spouses.

  • marymack77

    No taxation without representation was the rallying cry of America’s fledgling nation yet now it seems the Government is happy to use taxes to try to force the Catholic Church to have its own hospitals, social welfare organisations and schools abandon what they represent.

  • YEAL9

    “HOMOSEXUALITY IN ORTHODOX JUDAISMTHE CLASSIC TORAH VIEW OF HOMOSEXUALITYThe Torah clearly states its views about the act of homosexuality. The act of homosexuality,If not for the fact that homosexuality is prevalent in Western Society today, thereSimilarly, while the Torah may understand the homosexual desire, acting upon it is forbidden.Therefore, the Midrash specifically says (SOURCE #16) that a Jew should NOT say “I have no desire for that which is forbidden (pork or even another man),” but a Jew SHOULD say “what can I do, since God has commanded me not to act upon these desires.” EVERY society, even secularwww.lookstein.org/retrieve.php?IDBased on the above, one wonders what the the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith supports same-sex unions?“The organization has a professional staff of approximately 528 in 28 offices nationwide, of those , two staff members based in Washington DC devoted 75% of their time, and the other devoted approximately 50% engaged in advocacy on legislative proposals related to federal hate crime laws, global anti-terrorism, the Middle East Peace Process, immigration issues, the use of government money to fund faith-based organizations and counter-terrorism proposals outside Washington, DC.”The total revenue for the ADL in 2008 was $59, 960, 134 mostly coming from contributions and grants.ref: guidestar.org

  • marymack77

    All taxpayers are created equal but some are more equal than others? Thus Catholic taxpayers are expected to accept their tax dollars being given as subsidies but only if Catholic institutions fail to represrnt their teaching?This is religious persecution. Either give back a portion of taxes to help good community help to continue but don’t try to stifle the religious freedom of Catholics.

  • YEAL9

    Obviously the RCC is not the only tax-exempt group lobbying Congress.From guidestar.com:“The tax-exempt The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has a professional lobbying staff of approximately 528 in 28 offices nationwide, of those , two staff members based in Washington DC devoted 75% of their time, and the other devoted approximately 50% engaged in advocacy on (Congressional) legislative proposals related to federal hate crime laws, global anti-terrorism, the Middle East Peace Process, immigration issues, the use of government money to fund faith-based organizations and counter-terrorism proposals outside Washington, DC.”The total revenue for the ADL in 2008 was $59,960,134 mostly coming from contributions and grants.The largest of the lobbyists:(note the large sums of money being spent by health “profiteers” )Lobbying Client Total 1998-2009 US Chamber of Commerce $606,758,180 Would the move to end tax exemptions for any group generate the added taxes/contributions needed to pay for universal health care?? The money spent by the health-“profiteers” on lobbying should be spent on health insurance for those that cannot presently afford it.