Newspapers all over the country have recently spoken against President George W. Bush's latest efforts to undercut church-state separation through his "faith-based" initiative, including his plan to use tax funds to pay for construction at houses of worship. Some of these editorials are in the president's adopted home state of Texas. Here is a sampling:
San Antonio Express-News
The Bush administration's proposal to give churches access to federal housing money to build or refurbish buildings where worship services are held further erodes the separation between religion and government....
The proposal is the latest of the Bush administration's faith-based initiatives designed to eliminate what the administration sees as bias against religious groups in the scramble for government dollars to fund social services.
This so-called 'bias' is, in fact, a barrier between church and state that must be protected. Those who attend churches, mosques and synagogues and want to build worship spaces should pay for them out of their own coffers. They, too, should be concerned about government encroachment into religious affairs.
The taxpayers' money must be reserved for the taxpayers' business in this case, social services. (Jan. 28, 2003)
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
The concern with these proposals goes way beyond the libertarian argument a good one, by the way that the use of tax dollars undermines the entire notion of charity, which is unforced giving to those in need. Tax and voluntary are not synonymous....
Administration officials believe that faith-based organizations have been navigating rough waters when it comes to competing for federal grants to provide social services. This rule change, they argue, puts everyone on an even keel.
The Bush administration is tacking dangerously close to a perfect storm if it stays a course of government getting into the business of financing religion. (Feb. 1, 2003)
Are religious officials ready to become de facto government agencies? The fact is that there is no precise way of separating funds used to build altars and those to build counseling rooms. Construction money is notably fungible. One federal dollar used to build a restroom frees up a church dollar to build the altar.
Further, how to determine what a qualified religion is? Will Druid houses of worship or those where Black Masses are conducted qualify? Who will be in charge of certifying religions?
What a mess. (Feb. 7, 2003)