Keeping religion in its place

Keeping religion in its place

Continuing it series worrying about the influence of religion on American society, the New York Times yesterday covered tax exemptions accorded to religious organizations. The reporter really shows the agenda at work in this sentence:

The conflict in South Bend echoes disputes from Alaska to Florida that raise the following issue: As religious organizations of all faiths stretch their concept of mission far beyond traditional worship, should their traditional tax exemptions expand as well? Increasingly, government at all levels is answering yes.

This is how the Times and its liberal fellow-travelers see the correct role of religion in society. The function of religion that should be covered by First Amendment protections is traditional worship, i.e. religious services. Everything else is not a religious function. All charitable endeavors, all social justice work, everything else is rightly a function of government.

When liberals view the role of government as being our nanny, intruding into every nook and cranny of our lives, then a faith that embraces our whole lives and all our actions is a competitor. This kind of secular humanism is not just an agnostic hostility to religion. It is a competing religion, elevating authority, government, and secular institutions into a secular trinity, a deity to which obeisance must be paid. This secular religion tolerates true religion… for now, but only so far.

Tax exemptions are our constitutional right as provided by the First Amendment, but if the cost of continuing our mission in the world—beyond prayer services and Masses—is that exemption then so be it. We’ll give Caesar his coin, and continue to serve Christ in those we encounter around us: the naked, the sick, the hungry, and the imprisoned.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli