Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Separation Of Playground And State

This is a response to Matt Agorist's article on the Supreme Court ruling in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia V. Comer. After the Missouri Department of Natural Resources denied Trinity Lutheran Church a grant to put a soft top on their playground, the Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that the state could not deny public benefits to religious organizations. While I agree with Matt Agorist's conclusion that the state should not provide funding for the church playground, his argument about separation of church and state misses a more crucial point; the state should not fund any playgrounds. This is not to dismiss the separation of church and state as an important issue, but this issue itself is symptomatic of a much broader issue: an overgenerous welfare state. As Bastiat once wrote The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else. What started out as a well intentioned endeavor to help those who had fallen on hard times has morphed into a free for all buffet with everyone trying to get their share of the handouts. Of course, when I talk about the welfare state, I'm not just talking about poor people as it is commonly conceived of in conservative circles (e.g. SNAP). I would consider the $24B dolled out in farm subsidies to be a form of welfare, since it fits the definition. When the state uses eminent domain to seize property from one private owner and transfer it to a private corporation I also consider it a form of welfare; robbing Peter to pay Paul. Churches themselves are integral to the welfare state. For instance, Catholic Charities USA receives $2B in federal grants to administer programs like WIC (Women, Infants and Children). Hundreds of faith based charities are given federal grants and contracts to provide services such as disaster relief in foreign nations with assistance from USAID, resettle refugees through assistance from USRAP, and teach abstinence only sex education; in fact, Trump devoted $300M to abstinence only education in his 2018 budget proposal. The role of church's in the welfare state should not surprise anyone. The main problem is that Christians have socialist tendencies; I mean, they do worship a guy that condemned the rich regardless of how they acquired their wealth and instructed his followers to give all of their possessions to the poor. But regardless of what their faith teaches, it is not the duty of governments to give them everything to their hearts content. A government in its limited capacity can properly serve only as an apparatus to secure to everyone equal freedom to pursue their desires. When governments exceed the boundaries of moral law, we are incrementally more likely to end up with fiscal quagmires like the 33 states (including my own state) that are facing revenue shortfalls, top heavy bureaucracy that gets next to nothing done, hyperinflation like in most socialist Latin American countries and diminishing control over our own lives. It's funny that I don't recall any bible passages that command government funding for church play grounds or abstinence only education; it must have been in one of those manuscripts that got left out of the New Testament.

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