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Should religious charitable programs be funded by the State?

The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has asked Fort Carson to change its hospital emblem.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation has asked Fort Carson to change its hospital emblem, saying it violates the separation of church and state. The motto is "Pro deo et humanitate" or "For God and humanity."
(AP Photo/Evans Army Community Hospital)

Passed in 1885, Florida’s “No Aid" ban firmly states that no state money should be given to directly or indirectly aid any religious or sectarian organizations. However, grey areas still remain. For example, Christian ministers are currently paid by the state to rehabilitate incarcerated offenders, and Catholic Charities receives state funds to run homeless shelters. An associate professor at the University of Miami School of Law said the murkiness of the issue “has not been resolved by the highest court of Florida.” 

That might change. The president of the Council for Secular Humanism recently filed a lawsuit claiming "faith-based programming in Florida" violates the separation between church and state. In response, the First District Court of Appeal ruled that religious groups can continue to receive state funds for non-religious purposes. If an appeal is filed, the case could go to the Florida Supreme Court. (Source: Miami Herald.)

From an interfaith perspective, one noteworthy aspect of this case is that so many religious organizations currently receiving state funds are Christian. The ACLU fought against a Floridian voucher program in the mid-2000s because the program diverted tax dollars from public schools to "private, mostly church-run schools." In fact, the Florida Department of Education reported that 75% of the schools participating in the voucher program were religious schools.

If the Supreme Court rules that churches and church-run schools should be given taxpayer dollars, then should mosques, synagogues, and Buddhist and Hindu temples also receive their equal share of taxpayer dollars? What about Indigenous shamans, Wiccan covens, and Course in Miracles groups? How about nonbelievers (e.g., atheists, secular humanists, and agnostics) who are also working tirelessly for the environment, for human rights issues, and for better education of our children? 

What do you think? Please scroll down to leave a comment!

 (Twitter.com/DrDebBrown)

Comments

  • KenL 4 years ago

    absolutely not! I say TAX THE CHURCHES!

    The religious are not keeping up with the needs(wants) of the church, so they want my tax dollars to help. Problem is, I am atheist and even anti-theist and I do not want one cent of my taxes to support a church or religion.

    Worse, the church wants my tax money AND wants to be able to discriminate once they have it.

    "those jeezus freaks are friendly but...
    the s%*t they believe has their minds all shut...
    they don't even care when the church takes a cut...
    ain't it bleak when you have so much nothing?"

    F. Zappa the meek shall inherit nothing

  • Dave 4 years ago

    I'm not religious at all. Frankly, I don't get the appeal of religion. Be that as it may, I don't have a problem with tax dollars going to religious organizations performing NON-religious services to the public at large (e.g. food banks, homeless shelters, etc.) It doesn't matter to me what the religion is or what the group does normally. If they provide a purely secular function that the community needs and wants to pay for, fine. But they should have to comply with the community rules too. If it is illegal for a public organization to discriminate against a group, then that should hold true for the secular services performed by any group accepting money from the government for those services. I further think that the money paid to religious organizations should entirely pass through that organization to fund their efforts (e.g. for supplies, hiring labor). There should be no money left over to go to the group in general.

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