Featured News - Current News - Archived News - News Categories

Separation of church and state: a forgotten notion

by Tegan Mazur - Copy Editor
Tue, Apr 4th 2017 10:35 pm
Photo taken from Americans United on Twitter

President Donald Trump is hoping to alleviate budget cuts to programs that help families who struggle financially through religious organizations who would supply public financial assistance. People are wondering if church charities can pick up the slack.
Photo taken from Americans United on Twitter President Donald Trump is hoping to alleviate budget cuts to programs that help families who struggle financially through religious organizations who would supply public financial assistance. People are wondering if church charities can pick up the slack.

 Church and state, a match made in heaven, right? Well the two will get their day in court soon enough, but now is not the time for jokes. The secularity of government and to what degree that philosophy extends has been a dangerously hot topic of debate for quite some time. Religion and government enthusiasts never really make for a constructive crucible of conversation. Recently our most illustrious president has endeavored to throw a new log onto the embers of this conversation and give the flames a gentle stoke that only "the Donald" can give.

Fortunately for this story, President Donald Trump is just the setup and not the punchline. The long list of things the president thinks are useless like the Environmental Protection Agency,  has been expanded. According to The Atlantic article, "Can Religious Charities Take the Place of the Welfare State?" by Emma Green, this expansion includes, "[ending] aid for poor families to pay their heating bills, defund after-school programs at public schools and make fewer grants available to college students. Community block grants that provide disaster relief, aid neighborhoods affected by foreclosure and help for rural communities to have access to clean water, sewer systems, and safe housing would be eliminated." 

There is even talk of cutting funding to Meals on Wheels.

I've delivered for Meals on Wheels and it makes me absolutely nauseous to think the government can't be bothered to spend the little amount they already give to these people in need, some of the most vulnerable people in the nation nonetheless and that's not even talking about the college grants kids need to get through school so they can get decent jobs so they don't have to rely on government assistance which - oh wait, the government doesn't want to supply anymore. So what exactly does it think its job is?

As much as I would love to blame this entirely on Trump, it's only fair to give everyone's favorite political parties a few jabs now and again. Republicans and Democrats are both bringing religious organizations into the mix of this conversation. According to the aforementioned article, Republicans love to bring up religion, but Democrats love to use religion to promote spending, which Republicans usually do not take too kindly to. 

Pardon me if I sound too forward, but I truly don't care at all. It's always the same; the politicians will argue and sling the same mud back and forth that has been festering in the congressional playground since George Washington left and everyone could finally pick opposing sides and start bickering like good politicians should. As always that leaves the issues that need solving out in the cold while the bipartisan bickering echoes until the end of time.

Religion has an internal moral responsibility to devote to charitable endeavors. However, the charity organizations who are affiliated with certain churches/religious denominations are not employed by the citizens of the United States to assist them.That's the government. Churches and synagogues and mosques don't have the funding or the manpower to help those in need the same way the government can.  I'm not saying the government's job is to sit down and make sure their citizens are provided with basic human needs and education opportunities, oh wait ... I am. Any house of worship has one primary task . . . worship. The government can't simply defund programs that help its citizens when that is its first and only job: to help its citizens. According to the Daily Caller article, "Report Details Exactly How Trump's Budget Would Slash EPA Funding" Trump wants to cut 25 percent of EPA employees and 56 percent of its programs. That's great and everything but the EPA was created for a reason. 

So what now? Should the church take up the responsibility of protecting the environment? Should we see priests quoting the Bible, "thou shall drive a Prius and not leave it idling for more than five minutes!" No, of course not, because that is not their job. If they want to spread the message about being eco-friendly that's great, but they are not an organization responsible for protecting the environment, neither are they financially equipped to do so.

 I won't beat you over the head with the same rhetoric of, "well why don't we just defund the military some," because although it's a helpful quip, it doesn't dig at the real issue here. What could that real issue be? 

Well, I'm glad you asked! The fact is that while the president defunds these organizations, Congress debates what to do about it for all eternity and the religious organizations scramble to pick up the slack as best they can, the same thing happens that always happens ... nothing. The big people at the time say a lot of loud words and the people in need suffer anyway. Everybody becomes so concerned with which side to take on the issue they forget the whole point of the argument, to find a solution.

The fact of the matter is this: Trump should be helping those in need; Congress should be helping those in need and religious organizations should be helping those in need. Everyone should be helping those in need. You don't make America great again by asking someone else to do it for you.


teaganh83@gmail.com

Photo of the Week