Monday, January 26, 2009

The Church and Government Handouts

I went to a medical missions seminar this weekend. My mom and her husband were there too so I was especially glad to go. There were many interesting speakers. One of them was challenging those of us in smaller denominations with charitable organizations to go after bigger grants via the Faith Based Initiatives program that Pres. Bush started and Pres. Obama claims to support.

Many people in the audience seemed almost giddy with the prospect. I on the other hand felt a sense of dread. Is it really wise for the Church to be any more intertwined with the government than we already are? It is bad enough to be in contract with the government via 501(c)(3)'s. I really feel that we would be much better off if there were more free churches in the US. And now this link of money. It may be benign enough now. But once you start getting a million dollars here and there, it will be hard to turn your back on it once the rules change.

I am guessing that the rules will change but gradually. There will be baby steps in a direction until the 501(c)(3)'s board of directors feel uncomfortable. Then how do they live without these grants that they have become dependant on. They have lost connections with individual donors because more of their time is spent pursuing the government. Will they have the guts to say no thank you to a million dollars after depending on it previously?

I hope I am just being cynical and jaded. But I think it is a slippery road to start on. Stick with actual people who actually support your cause and believe what you believe.


Raymond V Banner said...

You express my own view on these matters. Even though liberal groups get a lot of goverment money my own view is that both liberal and conservative groups should depend upon private charity.
Also, as you indicate, when money comes from a liberal socialistic government there are strings attached as to what you can or cannot do with such money. These legal strings may be quite contrary to the Scriptures.

Cheryl Toliver said...

I agree. When the church starts taking government money, it politicalize the church. The church's politicalization over the last 8 years has only polarized and divided us as Christians, and we seem less focused on living out Christ's compassion for others than on trying to legislate our various versions of the Kingdom of God in the US. We would be much better off not taking the money, and keeping church and state separate. Then we can speak of Christ without compromising our faith.