State-sponsored religion

Somehow, I suspect the usual suspects who screech “separation of church and state” about the Christian faith affecting public policy will have no problem with the State using taxation to influence the content of sermons:

The news was as welcome to the group of Prince George’s County pastors as a plague of locusts: Maryland’s controversial “stormwater remediation fee” applied to all property owners, including houses of worship. Depending on the acreage, churches faced a tax of hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

The Rev. Nathaniel B. Thomas of Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church and his colleagues figured there had to be a better way. “We challenged the fee,” Thomas said. “Once Uncle Sam finds a way to take your money, he doesn’t stop.”

After months of negotiation with county environmental director Adam Ortiz, the pastors emerged with a rebate deal that will significantly cut the fees if churches adopt programs and equipment that will curb runoff, lessen pollution and help bolster the environment.

Thomas and other pastors also have agreed to start “green” ministries to maintain the improvements at their churches, and to preach environmentally focused sermons to educate their congregations.

Most taxation today is as much about control as it is revenue.  It is one of the largest blunt instruments used for social engineering.  When the State can threaten you financially unless you do what it wants, YOU ARE NOT FREE!  In the private world, this would be called extortion.

Let me be clear: I believe we DO have a responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, that this is entirely compatible with a Biblical worldview, and worthy of discussion in a Biblically consistent manner if the pastor is led by the Spirit to do so.  I do NOT believe, however, the State should be able in any way to affect what is preached from a pulpit, so long as clergy are not advocating violence towards others (I’m looking at you, Islamists…).  Such attempts at State influence of religious matters is EXACTLY the thing the Founders were out to prevent by guaranteeing freedom of religion.

If this is permitted to continue, it won’t stop at creating “environmentally friendly sermons,” either.  The State often forces its nose into the tent via financial incentives.  Once there, it won’t be long before the Church has to change its tune on OTHER issues as well.  At that point it won’t be a question of taxes.  It’ll be whether or not the Church takes the proverbial 30 pieces of silver.

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