||2017-07-04 10:13:51, 조회 : 843, 추천 : 226
Voting as a Christian
Chapter 7 (Part 3)
Freedom of Religion
Last week, we continued our discussion about freedom of religion. We learned about the "Three Reindeer Rule" and the banning of prayers in public squares. These practices have reduced our rights to freedom of religion and what we find today is a decrease in religious expression. Unfortunately, this also brings down the morale of our society altogether. Today, we will finish our discussion of freedom of religion but concluding by understanding faith-based programs and political advocacy by churches and their tax-exempt status.
In January 29, 2001, President George W. Bush established the White House office of Faith-Based Community Initiative (OFBCI). The OFBCI was to give government funding to faith-based programs that provided help in communities. However, the OFBCI was met with a lot of conflict because many people believed it was an improper use of funds and it set a dangerous precedent for government inclusion in religious activities. Wayne Grudem believes that the OFBCI can promote a lot of good in communities. He believes that giving funding to these social services promotes general welfare of the nation. Funding these faith-based programs by promoting social welfare is beneficial, because you are funding people that know what they are doing instead of having to train new people. In addition, this would then help save tax money for the government. Many people did not like the government using these funds and instead used the argument of the separation of church and state once more. On the other hand, Wayne Grudem believes that this kind of government funding can lead to the increase of governmental control in the private sector. However, both faith-based programs and the government have to make sure that the government funds are used precisely for the intended purpose. For example, if a Christian group were to use government funds to run a soup kitchen, then that group should be able to show that all government funds were used solely for the soup kitchen. If these religious groups are able to use these fund properly, but the government tried to intrude on the program then the religious group has the right to relinquish the funds without any government backlash. Once again it is important to remember that this funding should be available for other religions and it should be known that the programs have the choice of whether or not they want to receive government funding.
In 1954, the US Congress amended the internal revenue code S501C3. They amended it so that it would restrict the speech of non-profit tax-exempt entities; such as churches. This would require them to refrain from advocating or speaking against any political party or candidates. If any tax-exempt entities were to speak against any political candidate then they will be penalized by having their tax-exemption status revoked. Wayne Grudem says that it would be unwise for a church to state it's political position because it has the chance of offending members who hold different political views. However, we must ask is it right for the government to prohibit all recommendation for or against specific candidates in any election or in any circumstance? This amendment actually violates the "establishment clause as this requires the government to excessively and pervasively monitor the speech of churches to ensure that they are not transgressing the restriction in the amendment." We must say that the government has no business in what type of speech is political or not. Grudem also states, "the amendment violates the free speech clause because it requires the government to discriminate the speech based solely on the content of the speech." In an article "Political Pastors Openly Defying IRS Rules on Candidate Endorsements" they question why clergymen are free to talk about issues such as abortion and gay marriage but unable to talk about political matters. This amendment also violates the free-speech clause by the conditions of what the church can say and therefore burdens the church by prohibiting their ability to exercise their religion. In this argument, we are not advocating for pastors to constantly endorse or oppose candidates, however, they should the right to do so. Therefore, on the last Sunday prior to the 2008 presidential election, the Alliance Defense Fund asked multiple pastors around the country to publicly endorse or oppose certain candidates. Then they asked to state why by embedding biblical morals into their reasons.
Today, we finished our discussion about freedom of religion. We often find our rights being unknowingly violated. With all these restrictions to our speech, it prohibits any discussion about religion and thus decreases religious activity. Unfortunately, many people use the separation of church and state in order to back these restrictions. Yet, we learned that this is not the true meaning of church and state. Next week, we will learn about how we can apply Democratic and Republican policies today.
1) What is the White House office of Faith-Based Community Initiative? Do you agree with this program? Why or why not?
2) What does Wayne Grudem think about the White House office of Faith-Based Community Initiative?
3) What is the internal revenue code S501C3? Do you think this code should be allowed? Why or why not?
4) Do you think that pastors should be able to discuss their political views? Give reasons for both sides.
5) Why do you think freedom of religion was so important to our early presidents? Why do you think this freedom isn't valued today?