More significantly, in terms of impact, the U. S. federal government has been quietly co-opting religious charities by outsourcing the delivery of social services to them. George Bush gets much of the blame for this. Where is the liberal outrage over lack of separation between church and state in this area? James Piereson reports in the WSJ that Catholic Charities in the U.S. gets over half of its funding from the feds. This entanglement leads to a number of negative outcomes for the country and the church.
- Whenever the church is co-opted by government it gradually declines and loses its effectiveness. This is because it becomes identified with the establishment, especially a failing statist establishment. This is one reason why the European church is dying.
- The church organizations becomes a lobbying organization for big government, as do all of the other co-opted private organizations. In the past, the church has served as an effective check on government. This removes another roadblock against the Road to Serfdom that Obama wants us to travel. (For those unfamiliar, Hayek shows how the socialist impulse leads to totalitarianism and we end up no better than the serfs of feudal society, both in liberty and wealth.)
- Men feel unneeded by the church and leave, seriously weakening the institution. Men generally need to have real work to do in order to feel useful. The modern church gives them little to do, but the good works of charities has heretofore been such a venue. Now that the work is done by staff paid from federal funds, there is nothing left for men who want to volunteer. Only so many can go to Haiti or Mexico, where there is real need. A church that loses its men declines, as there is ample research to prove.
- It undermines the impulse to charitable giving and indeed it undermines the rationale for granting such organizations tax deductible status. If they are just another government contractor why should we give and why should their donations be tax exempt? Piereson points this out as well.
Is it too much to ask for some separation of church and state?