Funding the Household of Faith with the Mammon of the Feds

May 2, 2005 | 6 comments

Suppose a religious group receives some federal mammon to fund their good works. Pregnancy counseling, say, or a homeless shelter. Or job training. If the group uses paid employees in that good work, should it be able to hire exclusively from within the faith?

HR. 27, a job training bill , says YES.

Big gun academics have criticized its constitutionality. Rick Garnett, of Notre Dame and the redoubtable Mirror of Justice blog, responds here.

I don’t know how open the Church is to recieving federal money in its charitable work. Not very, I bet. But the Church does have a strong interest in seeing that churches taking account of religion in their hiring doesn’t come to be seen as just another form of invidious ‘discrimination’.

6 Responses to Funding the Household of Faith with the Mammon of the Feds

  1. a random John on May 2, 2005 at 12:47 pm

    The Church went to the USSC several years ago to defend the firing of a non-member at the Deseret Gym. Other religions were supportive of the LDS position, and glad that the LDS were the ones taking it to court and not them.

    The Church has not accepted any federal money under the faith-based funding initiative. President Hinckley made it pretty clear that the church wasn’t interested in using tax money.

  2. A. Greenwood on May 2, 2005 at 12:51 pm
  3. Ben H on May 2, 2005 at 5:49 pm

    The fact that HR 27 is still a bill, rather than a law, seems a good reason for the Church to be very cautious about getting involved in any kind of faith-based federal funded stuff. There are probably a few other things that aren’t even bills yet, that would have to be settled too.

  4. Chad too on May 2, 2005 at 6:50 pm

    I thought it interesting in Amos (the USSC case, not the Old Testament book. I still haven’t learned how to italicize in here!) that Justice O’Connor felt it important to note that Deseret Gym was a not-for-profit set-up and that the question as to whether or not the Amos protection would stand in a given religion’s for-profit arm remained separate.

    I could see how moving into the for-profit realm might take the activities away from First Amendment protection and more into the realm of interstate commerce. Fascinating, nonetheless.

    BTW, the church came up in a light-hearted comment by Chief Justice Rehnquist this term in the oral argument of a religious-freedom-in-prison case, see page 53 here:

  5. Peter on May 2, 2005 at 8:14 pm

    This brings up a big argument against federally funding religious groups. As soon as a church accepts federal funds it then must conform its doctrine to political whims in order to keep the funds flowing. The church eventually (maybe even quickly) becomes corrupt. (I believe this was a John Adams argument, and likely others of the founders.) Thus, in my opinion, religious citizens should very grateful for the separation of church and state in the U.S. (Of course, churches still get tax breaks and BYU students get Pell Grants, etc. So what do I know?)

  6. Stephen M (Ethesis) on May 2, 2005 at 10:17 pm

    What most of you do not realize is that in the traditional areas of the country, for over twenty years, many churches have worked in-line with a pastor controlled “non-church” which controlled government revenue into ghettos and other insular groups.

    When the pastor has bastards, he may pay child support, but he remains in control of the church because he controls the revenue stream. It has completely robbed some churches of any moral authority in their communities and is a tragedy that has infected some areas of discourse.

    I really see mainstreaming “reverse-affirmative action” implementation of the same principle as not a good thing.


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