|'Charitable Choice' is Bad for Religion
Finally, "charitable choice" threatens the health of American religious
institutions themselves. Religion has thrived in America precisely because
the government is prohibited from endorsing or burdening religious practice.
"Charitable choice" raises serious concerns about the possibility of
government entanglement with religious practices and is likely to result
in unwelcome, divisive competition among religious groups before elected
officials for scarce government funds. Many religious organizations
have been rightly wary of "charitable choice," concerned that their
religious ministries would be subject to intrusive government regulation,
including audits, reporting requirements and compliance reviews.
On one hand, the specter of government inspectors monitoring those
funded programs that take place in houses of worship is deeply disturbing.
On the other hand, "charitable choice" would also seem to require religious
people -- many who have devoted their lives to spreading a spiritual
message through words and good deeds -- to muzzle themselves about their
most fundamental beliefs while attempting to fulfill a deeply spiritual
mission. Many religions are by their very nature evangelical; to require
that their adherents not proselytize in these programs clearly dilutes
their spiritual missions -- ultimately compromising their intended power
to inspire and uplift their beneficiaries.
Moreover, churches and synagogues have traditionally provided a wide
array of community health and welfare services as part of their sacred
religious missions. They have been supported by the countless hours
of volunteer services and social action by members of their congregations
and communities. Receipt of government funds may have a negative impact
on volunteer contributions and involvement of church members. Receipt
of Federal funds and fierce competition for scarce resources may also
compromise religion's historic role as an independent social critic.
"Charitable choice" allows for an unprecedented
entanglement of government and religion -- to the detriment of both.
Rather than abandon our nation's great tradition of separation of church
and state which has allowed religion to flourish in the United States, the
Government should encourage increased private subsidies for religious
ministries, including tax incentives for charitable contributions. Every
needy American should be able to receive help without being subjected to