IFAS | Freedom Writer | October 1996 | question.html

Should churches take government money to fund social programs?

"Michigan is turning to faith-based organizations to help get people jobs. John Truscott, spokesman for Governor John Engler, says the state is giving approximately $400,000 to the Salvation Army. The funds will allow the Army to network with other religious organizations to provide job training, transportation and clothing for those on welfare who need jobs. 'Their bottom line goal is helping people... They have resources that government agencies may not have,' explained Truscott. 'And there's nothing wrong with restoring a little bit of faith.' (The Pastor's Weekly Briefing, 9/6/96)

While it's proper for faith-based organizations to play a vital role in social work, government should not fund such groups precisely because they are religious. The Salvation Army is a church, and by accepting government funding, church and state become unconstitutionally entangled.

Faith-based groups already receive government assistance through their tax-exempt status, a benefit allowed because these groups are supposed to serve the public, performing tasks the government might otherwise need to perform.

If people wish to give their personal resources to these causes, they can make direct donations and receive the benefit of an income tax deduction.

Furthermore, when churches and other faith-based groups take government money, they come under a degree of government scrutiny, thus threatening their religious freedom.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.