READER'S EDITORIAL: MUNICIPALITIES HAVE NO BUSINESS ENGAGING IN BUSINESS WITH RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version Share this

 

By Tom Comeau

August 30, 2014 (El Cajon)--There's always been a steady assault by religious groups of all stripes, on the separation of church and state, but what El Cajon doesn't need is for the City Council to initiate such activity as in its proposed contract with the "Rock Church" (do they worship rocks?) for the utilization of the East County Performing Arts Center (ECPAC) for religious purposes. The Council cannot dodge the issue of the church/state violation when it agrees to allow a church to utilize 'public property' for what is clearly religious purposes. Included in this agreement is the proposed erection of an additional building on 'public property' to serve the needs of this religious group, with the generous proviso that the building would revert to the city at the end of its use by the religious group.

Churches do have a right to exist, on their own but that doesn't include survival through 'business arrangements' with municipalities. If the congregation fails to support the church, it has a right to go under just like any other business, which is what churches are, regardless of how piously they present themselves. Stop the flow of money and watch how quickly these devout con artists seek other means of conning the public out of its money. 

If the "separation of church and state" is to have any meaning at all it must view these two parties as indeed "separate"; it should not include city councils 'actively seeking business arrangements' with any religious group no matter how profitable the arrangement. The separation of these two entities exists for a well established, historical reason and a city entering into a contract with a religious group certainly violates the spirit of the separation clause. 

If the Supreme Court views a cross on public land, or the display of the Ten Commandments to be impermissible, the same view should apply for a church on public property.  There is no difference, no matter the clever word arrangement of the ever-present lawyers. If a cross on public property, being merely a "symbol" of a church, is seen as a violation of the separation clause, how much more of a violation is the actual presence of the "church" itself? 

The City Council has more than enough municipal issues to attend to; it should leave the administrators of the Rock Church free to suck as much of the public's money as it can, on their own, while posing as soul savers. 

The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact editor@eastcountymagazine.org.

 

 


Error message

Local news in the public interest is more important now than ever, during the COVID-19 crisis. Our reporters, as essential workers, are dedicated to keeping you informed, even though we’ve had to cancel fundraising events. Please give the gift of community journalism by donating at https://www.eastcountymedia.org/donate.

Comments

In fact, the government at

In fact, the government at every level--city, state and federal--has every right to to conduct business with religious groups, and often does. This right is provided by law. The First Amendment reads only that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion...." This non-establishment clause meant only that that nation should not prefer one religion over another. It was in no way thought to be synonymous with or imply the exclusion of religion from public life. Indeed, how could it, when those who ratified the Amendment, the first Congress, appointed chaplains and other clergy for the House, Senate and Armed Forces? As the Declaration of Independence, our nation's primary political document, makes perfectly clear, government's primary responsibility is to secure those extra-legal rights that come to man--are his--by virtue of his Creator: "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...." Thus, any argument to the effect that religion has no place in the public realm is, by definition, (in this country, anyway) a non-starter.