Religious Right leader favors church-state separation if the church is tolerant of gays

Remember that unlikely earthquake in August, 2011, that shook Washington, D.C., and damaged some of the buildings therein?

Among the facilities affected by that temblor was the National Cathedral (above), which has since received $700,000 in tax money from the U.S. Interior Department for foundation repairs, metal work and restoration of stained-glass windows. Officials at Interior defended the grant by insisting that the cathedral is an historic structure.

I don’t agree with the government’s rationale. The use of public funds to restore a religious institution strikes me as a violation of the First Amendment. I think the money for repairs should come from the cathedral’s congregants or other sympathetic sources in the private sector.

And guess who shares my opposition to the federal handout to the cathedral (albeit for completely different reasons)? Why, it’s THIS GUY, of all people:

Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition wants the federal government to end its “Save America’s Treasures Grants” to the National Cathedral because the church decided to perform same-sex marriages. While same-sex marriage is legal in Washington D.C., where the historic Episcopal church is located, the FFC claims that the cathedral is undermining the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and therefore should not receive federal money “until such time that it ceases the practice of homosexual ‘marriage’ certification.”

“Taxpayers are being asked to subsidize gay marriage ceremonies,” the FFC writes, “Pro-family and Pro-freedom Americans will not sit idly by as the government attempts to change the Biblical definition of marriage.”

That’s right, the same FFC which believes Obama is waging a “war on religion” and trampling on “religious liberty” wants the government to cut off its grants to a church due to its opposition to marriage equality.

Meanwhile, Rob Boston has THIS RESPONSE to a letter he received from Ralph Reed regarding federal funds for the National Cathedral:

Ralph, you spent most of your professional life working to undermine the wall of separation between church and state and electing men and women who don’t respect that protective barrier. Those elected officials, in turn, nominated judges who also don’t see much use for the church-state wall. Their rulings have weakened it. One of the things they did was erode previous court decisions that flatly barred tax aid to religious institutions.

And you see, Ralph, once we start going down this road, we can’t make distinctions among churches based on their political views, as your group would apparently have us do. The government would have to use neutral criteria to decide these questions.

Here’s a better alternative: No taxpayer money for houses of worship. Period.

If we had stuck with that constitutional principle, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now.  I’d also like to point out that it’s a wee bit hypocritical to advocate for government support for religion as long as it’s a religion you like and then screaming bloody murder when it’s extended to a faith you don’t care for.

Here’s the bottom line: There is one thing that could have stopped taxpayer aid from propping up the National Cathedral – the separation of church and state. Reed has spent nearly his entire professional life laboring to undermine that principle. Thanks in part to his nefarious schemes, tax money is now flowing to a church that has policies with which he disapproves.


1 Comment

  1. RedRover

    House Approves Storm Aid for Religious Institutions
    The New York Times, Published: February 18, 2013
    Opponents of the bill worry that federal aid to rebuild churches and synagogues damaged by Hurricane Sandy could violate the doctrine of separation of church and state.

    Here’s the official Congressional Record (from the Library of Congress Thomas website) entry for the bill:

    Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act of 2013

    Amends the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to include community centers, including tax-exempt houses of worship, as “private nonprofit facilities” for purposes of disaster relief and emergency assistance eligibility under such Act.

    Makes a church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or other house of worship, and a private nonprofit facility operated by a religious organization, eligible for federal contributions for the repair, restoration, and replacement of facilities damaged or destroyed by a major disaster, without regard to the religious character of the facility or the primary religious use of the facility.

    Makes this Act applicable to the provision of assistance in response to a major disaster or emergency declared on or after October 28, 2012.

    Both of our Congress-members, Kinzinger & Bustos, voted FOR this bill:

    If it passes the Senate and is signed into law by the President, the cost of repairing all of the houses of worship damaged by Hurricane Sandy will far exceed that spent on repairing the “National Cathedral”.

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