David Waters in his Under God blog asks these good questions about President Obama’s decision to defer a final decision on the non-discrimination hiring policy for groups getting federal money though the new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships:
The goal of the new faith-based initiative, Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, “will not be to favor one religious group over another — or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line our Founders wisely drew between church and state.”
But this line is blurry. How much blurrier (and more contentious) will it get when millions in federal funds start to flow?
Will the Southern Baptist Convention be allowed to take federal tax dollars to help hurricane victims if they tell them about Jesus while they’re giving them food and water?
Will World Vision be allowed to use federal tax dollars to care for orphans in Muslim or Hindu nations while refusing to hire non-Christians to do the caring?
Will the pastor of First Megachurch of Houston be given federal tax dollars to provide drug counseling for deadbeat dads while preaching and practicing discrimination against homosexuals or atheists or illegal aliens?
If so, many church-state separatists will cry foul. If not, many evangelicals will complain about sectarian discrimination.
There’s a simple and faithful way to solve this problem. If evangelical groups don’t want the federal government telling them what they can or cannot do with federal tax dollars, they shouldn’t take federal funds. (bold is mine)
“What does the LORD require of you?” it says in the Book of Micah. “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” No federal funds required.
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,” Jesus says in the Book of Matthew.
In neither case is government funding required.