Sunday, September 27, 2009

Should We Encourage Christian Groups to Help with Government/Societal Goals?

A common worry is the effect on a religious group or other private entity when they accept government funds. Some solve the problem by simply refusing such funding. Hillsdale College in Michigan, for example, accepts no such funds, even in the form of student aid. This means they are not subject to as much regulation as they would be if they accepted such funding.

The topic is very timely today because of federal funds for charity work. Charities may be religious, and if so, they may wish to hire those who are compatible with their faith. But some groups argue that this is unconstitutional (separation of church and state and all that). Of course, the same Constitution also guarantees freedom of religion.

So when the government is passing out money, is it OK for them to withhold it from a charitable group simply because of their the religious practice? What if the religious groups are just plain better at getting government-desired results than comparable non-religious groups? For example, when the government is left to their own devices to rehabilitate prisoners, those released wind up back in prison well over half the time. But there is a religious group that does similar work, except they see only about 1/5 as many people returning to prison. Does it make sense to keep them from government funding?

A story recently appeared in the Washington Post concerning WorldVision and their work to prevent juvenile delinquency. They are a Christian group and their access to government funds is definitely at risk. Read the story below.

Washington Post

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