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Faith-Based Services: What Would Jesus Do?

President George W. Bush should get his wealthy, compassionate supporters to fund faith-based charities and ministries all over America. Then, the ministries would have free rein and would not have to be concerned with government regulations and separation of church and state. The government could meet the remaining unmet social service needs.

According to the Bible, President Bush's favorite philosopher, Jesus Christ, told the rich young ruler to sell all he had and give the money to the poor.

--Paul L. Whiteley Sr. Louisville, Ky.

Selling Their Souls?

President George W. Bush's faith-based initiative is an end run around Thomas Jefferson's wall of separation between church and state.

If houses of worship accept these taxpayers' dollars, they will be following in the footsteps of a famous character in literature: Dr. Faustus. (Remember his deal with the devil?)

Why should houses of worship accept these dollars and lose their souls?

--Louis A. Carrubba Staten Island, N.Y.

No Place At The White House

I am deeply concerned about President Bush's intention to provide federal funds to "faith-based" groups for whatever reason. I am also opposed to his establishing an office at the White House to facilitate this initiative. What is going on here?

I am a religious person myself, but neither my faith -- nor anyone else's -- has any place in government or at the White House! And the government has no place in faith. The separation between church and state in the Constitution is there for good reason, and without it, I seriously doubt that America would be the prosperous, powerful and democratic nation (with the exception of the last presidential election!) that it is today.

This initiative must be stopped before it gets started.

--Krysti Brice Prague, Czech Republic

Making Big Churches Bigger?

The recent Bush executive order is not only a step backwards for religious freedom but also for women's rights. Many religious charities in poor communities will not offer birth control or other reproductive counseling that women and couples need. The means for women to gain empowerment, education, equality and poverty relief will be diminished.

However, I see a bigger problem here. Where will the money come from? And which churches will get it? If those churches that are already big enough to offer charitable services get federal funds, they won't have to use the money coming in from their regular donations. But that money will still come in. Where will it go? For bigger churches with more classrooms, as if they are preparing to take over for public schools? And if they get voucher programs to help pay for those, they gain an even greater advantage over smaller churches. It sets up a kind of religious, economic Darwinism.

Just as Republicans like to complain about big government, the same arguments can apply to big churches. They may tend to lose touch with the concerns of people and the message they are supposedly compelled to profess and instead ornament their increasingly valuable worldly property and extend their power and influence.

Will we have to wait for some 21st century Martin Luther to nail grievances to church doors only after corruption has become rampant? Or only after a fundamentalist, McCarthyistic, Christian theocracy has turned America into a religious battleground similar to Northern Ireland and the former Yugoslavia?

Four hundred years ago people had a new continent to flee to. We don't now. We have to live together. And if the checks and balances protecting people's freedoms from the tyranny of majorities and minorities alike fail us now, our democracy may face its biggest crisis since the 1860s.

--Lowell David Cooper New Castle, Ind.

Ten Commandments Penalties

I received the November issue of Church & State and read Samuel Rabinove's "Viewpoint" essay ("The Ten Commandments And Public Schools: Shall We Post The Penalties Too?") with great interest. His proposal to publicize the penalties associated with the Ten Commandments is an idea that I also support.

I am not an expert in these matters, but I found in the Bible death penalties for only the first seven commandments. Mr. Rabinove says there were death penalties for all ten, but he does not give references where these penalties can be found in the Bible. It is much more convincing when you can cite chapter and verse where people can look for themselves.

I would like very much to learn where the remaining death penalties can be found.

--John B. Hodges Blacksburg, Va.

Editor's Note: Samuel Rabinove tells us that some of the penalties cited in his article come from the Bible while others come from the Talmud, the body of Jewish civil and canonical law. Stoning is mentioned in the Bible as an appropriate punishment for some offenses, but other forms of execution, such as decapitation by sword and strangulation, were devised by Talmudic scholars who extrapolated them from biblical analysis. Rabinove says readers interested in this topic may consult Hyman E. Goldin's Hebrew Criminal Law and Procedure (Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1952).
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Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 1, 2001
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