Faith-Based Human Services:
Violation of Church and State?
The issue of government support
for faith-based human
services is full of complications, dangers, ambiguities, and
The beauty of religiously-oriented social ministries is the potential
dealing with people as whole selves, i. e., giving them food for the
as well as for the body. But this very unity poses the problem of how
is Constitutionally licit for the government to enable the
of secular bread without funding sectarian religion. If, on the other
the delivery of goods and services to the needy is totally
from the religious dimension, in what meaningful sense is it any longer
faith-based, apart from merely being sponsored by a religious group?
shouldn't the government fund a church soup kitchen if all that is
is soup? Because, we say, what the church would spend on soup can now
spent on the church bus. But maybe they would just serve more
Maybe the soup itself is a witness to the faith behind it, but if
it is, is that not a sponsorship of religion? Would the government
against some religious groups? Would giving government money to
tend to dull the prophetic urge to be critical of the state? Would the
government require conformity to certain rules that would restrict
autonomy? What is a religious group? What does faith-based mean?
Can we think our way through this thicket without falling into
A strict and purist position on
these matters is impossible in
terms. Many lines have to be drawn in shades of gray. We have to do a
of British "muddling through." Those who look for absolutely
prescriptions requiring no delicate balancing acts are doomed to
frustration. Or they may be tempted to resort to desperate efforts to
purity of doctrine by suppressing legitimate elements in the total
of principles that govern the nation.
I invite comments, criticisms,
refutations, suggestions, and
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If you want to take a break for some fun
before you get to the
serious stuff, the links below will take you to some short videos
humorous nature that I made. They poke good-natured fun
some funny aspects of religion, churches, theology, right-wing
Protestant religion, and the mixture of right-wing religion and
politics. They are designed purely for entertainment and laughter. I
hope you enjoy them. Here
is a list of my movies that play
on Windows Media Player.
For an updated version of Mother Goose for the modern age, visit Mother Goose
Goes Electronic Having a Web site is
becoming a family enterprise. First to have a Pagewas my son. Paul Cauthen
The latest entry is that of my son-in-law and daughter.
Ric Brown and Nancy
These sites are very different, but both are
creative, imaginativeproductions. They would welcome a visit.
Please remove * in my e-mail address before sending. The * was added to thwart spammers. Thank you.