Thursday, April 13, 2006

Why Baptist Churches Should Never Accept State Aid!

Sometimes, the U.S. Supreme Court issues a unanimous decision which reaffirms, in the boldest possible way, the correctness of our Baptist beliefs and practices. The recent court decision of "Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, Inc. [FAIR]," 547 U.S. ____ (March 6, 2006), pitting homosexuals and liberal law schools against military recruiters, brightly illuminates the correctness of the Baptist doctrine of separation of church and state.

THE “FAIR” CASE

Congress has adopted the following policy “with respect to homosexuals in the military. . . [A] person may not serve in the Armed Forces if he has engaged in homosexual acts, stated that he is a homosexual, or married a person of the same sex.” As you read the opening paragraph of Chief Justice Roberts’ unanimous opinion, try to spot an issue which relates to our Baptist beliefs.

"When law schools began restricting the
access of military recruiters to their
students because of disagreement with the
Government’s policy on homosexuals in
the military, Congress responded by
enacting the Solomon Amendment. . .
That provision specifies that if any part
of an institution of higher education
denies military recruiters access equal to
that provided other recruiters, the entire
institution would lose certain federal
funds. The law schools responded by
suing, alleging that the Solomon
Amendment infringed their First
Amendment freedoms of speech and
association."

RULING

If you haven’t yet spotted the issue which relates to our Baptist beliefs, consider the following: “The Solomon Amendment, however, forces institutions to choose between enforcing their non-discrimination policy against military recruiters in this way and continuing to receive specified federal funding.” A unanimous Supreme Court held that the Solomon Amendment does not violate the First Amendment freedoms of speech and association.

STATE AID FOR CHURCHES

In other recent Supreme Court decisions, the Court has ruled that the Establishment Clause is not violated when federal funds for education and other faith-based initiatives are directed to churches. However, in every instance where federal funding is accepted, the church school or church must accept applicable federal regulations, which may or may not violate the church’s faith or practice.

Consider the following scenario, which changes the facts just a little bit from the recent Supreme Court decision. Suppose a church school has been receiving federal funding for generations and is dependent upon that federal funding for continued existence. Then suppose that the government issues a new policy that the recipients of federal funding must issue a policy that not only prohibits discrimination against homosexuals, but also requires the recipient to embrace homosexuality as an acceptable sexual orientation.

In that scenario, the church school would face the same dilemma that the law schools faced in the FAIR case. The regulation forces churches to choose between (1) their beliefs on homosexuality and (2) continuing to receive federal funding.

BAPTIST BELIEFS AVOID THE DILEMMA

The liberal law schools faced a dilemma -- either stand up for their beliefs or sit down and accept federal funding. Those law schools chose to sit down. How about our Baptist churches? As you ponder which is more important to you -- your beliefs or your pocketbook -- consider the famous quote by that prince of Baptist preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, pithily expressing our Baptist beliefs with respect to this dilemma: “[W]e are not ready to accept any help from the State, to prostitute the purity of the Bride of Christ . . .”

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