Charles Rehn - Democrat for President 2004

A Conversation With America
Questions That Must Be Answered
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Faith Based Charities

"...That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

-- Thomas Jefferson

I'm sure that this is one of those areas where many people will agree with me, though we may all have different reasons.

When I think about the government providing funding for faith based charities, what I think about is that if I wanted to attend a given church and tithe to them, then I would.

I've given plenty of money to non-profit groups and religious organizations when I believed in the work they were doing. I don't think I've ever taken anything off my taxes for it, because it wasn't why I was giving, so I didn't give it much thought.

Constitutionally, I believe there is great wisdom to be respected in the separation of church and state, solely to prevent those who would impose any kind of religion or dogma upon its people. Christians would certainly be opposed if our government began promoting Buddhism.

Still, I've long said that I believed the United States would benefit by a return to integrity that could be provided by the leadership of churches. But, I'm also convinced that it's unethical and fundamentally ineffective to believe you can force anyone to believe or do anything.

Many studies have been done regarding the development of character and integrity in the upbringings of young people. The most consistent elements found were 1) Responsibility and 2) Discipline.

Responsibility's the easy one. You can assign a young person a job, and hold them to it. Discipline is the ability for that person to give conscious consideration to things, such as what might happen if the dog doesn't get fed, how throwing a rock may actually injure someone and things of that nature. It's also the ability to organize one's thoughts and experiences into conscious choices regarding one's conduct, reliability and methods.

Religious training and faith are very good ways to instill discipline and conscious living. The military, farm life, clubs and activities in sports are often cited as instilling excellent qualities of discipline in their own ways.

And, it generally comes down to knowing that it often takes just a little extra effort to consistently do things the "right way" in order for things to work out properly on the whole, even if it's less convenient or takes a little more time.

The other day, I read a story about  a group standing up for its right to require employees in their federally funded/subsidized charity to be a member of their "church" or faith.

I actually understand this desire, in many ways, it makes sense that you would want to have your work represented in a particular way, with people who agree with the philosophical foundations of the work you do.

Unfortunately, at that point, it becomes clear that the organization is promoting a philosophical or religious outreach. And, it becomes a legitimate issue of the separation of church and state.

The history of the world provides example after example of the problems that occur when the separation of church and state is broken down.

Now, you may wonder how a person who claims to be of "faith" would hinder the work of the church. It's a simple answer: I believe in free will, and I believe the government's job is to administer government, and not to interfere with self-expression (that does not encroach on the rights of others' self-expression) or to promote a particular moral discipline.

Bill allows some Head Start schools to base hiring on religion
  "Faith-based organizations cannot be expected to sustain their religious mission without the ability to employ individuals who ... practice their faith, because it's that faith that motivates them to serve," Castle said.

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(C) 2002,2003-2009 Charles Rehn Jr IV  All rights reserved