I’m sure most of you are aware of the justification often given for government funding of faith-based charities: these religious charities are doing good work that can’t be done by the government, at least not done as cheaply or efficiently. If the government cannot fund sufficient drug rehabilitation programs, what’s wrong with having the Church of Everlasting Guilt serve those in need?
Apparently, the same rationale is being extended to other areas of church-state interaction, as indicated by a recent article in The Wall Street Journal . More public schools are using churches as venues for graduation ceremonies, apparently because their own indoor facilities are too cramped — and people want the comfort of air-conditioning instead of sitting outside. Here again, we have the argument that there’s nothing wrong if churches are providing a service that the government cannot provide. What’s the big deal?
For those concerned about church-state separation, it is a big deal. Not only does the use of religious institutions provide opportunities for proselytizing, but having churches take on the responsibilities of government conveys an unmistakable message that churches have government approval, constitute an important part of your life, and are the organizations you should turn to in times of need. Saving a few bucks should not provide an excuse for violating freedom of conscience and trashing the Constitution. I should not have to listen to a sermon to get a bowl of soup or sit under a crucifix for two hours to get my diploma.
The next thing you know, the government will be contracting out counseling for sex offenders to the Catholic Church. I understand they have a lot of experience.