Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Florida trying to end Separation of Church and State

I'm not sure if I'm angry about this, or disappointed.

There has been a policy in this country for centuries that holds that the Church and the State should be two separate entities. That people should render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God.

Because of this, our nation gives churches a lot of leeway. They get the same access to fire, police, roads, environmental protection, military defense, so on and so forth - and they don't have to pay a dime in taxes. Their members, in fact, can give money to the church, then claim that as a charitable donation and pay less to the total pool of money that go in to pay for all of those services.

This is done because it's viewed that religious organizations give out more service that they receive. Perhaps in moral instruction, perhaps in community support, or in helping the less fortunate. In return, the notion of Separation was important. We don't make Baptists pay into a fund to pay the Jehovah's Witnesses, or cause the Catholics to support Jewish synagogues. People donate to their own faith (or withhold their money if they don't believe in organized religion), and share all of the services in common.

Evidently, this isn't enough. Now, the state of Florida wants to change the state constitution to allow money to go to religious schools. Remember, its not enough that they already pay no taxes, that their members can get tax breaks on donations to the church, that they receive free services from taxpayer dollars.

Nope. Now, they need everybody else's money to in order to pay for their own schools so they can keep their kids out of public schools, where they might learn about "evolution" or "Thomas Jefferson pushed for separation of church and state" or, horror of horrors, in the Copernican model of the solar system with the sun in the center instead of Earth.

The proposed constitutional amendment would let state dollars flow into the private coffers of religious groups. Oh, I know the justifications - "it's to provide an alternative to the public school system!"

Fine. Fund an alternative, but making others pay for the religious indoctrination of children is part of the reason why we have "separation of church and state." I'm assuming the state will be all right with a Wahhabi Islam instructional school getting taxpayer funds? How about a white supremacy religion getting state funds to instruction children, since "We have to give parents the choice."

No. I say no. If the state wants to provide money to fund private, secular schools as an alternative to the public education system, I will find the move ironic (the private funded by the public), but I'd be all right.

But the idea of making people of other religions pay to already tax exempt, tax donation reducing, and "getting services for free" organizations that have stood in direct opposition to scientific and moral progress - the answer from me is no.

And hopefully we can let our political leaders know the same.

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