FFRF of Georgia

Greedy clergy want taxpayers to pay church security bills

Written on 10/13/2020
Lauryn Seering

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is condemning an appeal by an assortment of church groups to Congress urging a drastic increase in the amount of taxpayer funds for church security costs.

Currently, the Nonprofit Security Grant Program provides $90 million to various nonprofit organizations, the vast majority of which are churches. The church letter, apparently authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Religious Liberty and signed by 10 other religious organizations, urges Congress to expand this allocation fourfold, to $360 million, so that more churches can receive taxpayer funding through the program. The letter offers the bizarre justification that “the church teaches that the government has the duty to foster the conditions in which religion can thrive." In other words, the churches are arguing that religious freedom entitles them to government funding.

This attempted flagrant money grab would force taxpayers to pay churches’ costs in violation of the American principle of keeping state and church separate. Something is very wrong that this program's substantial disbursements in the past have gone almost exclusively to religious organizations.

As Benjamin Franklin famously noted:

“When a religion is good, I conceive that it will support itself; and, when it cannot support itself, and God does not take care to support, so that its professors are oblig'd to call for the help of the civil power, it is a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.”

This demand for extra government funding comes on the heels of reports that churches received more than $7 billion in taxpayer funds under the Payment Protection Program, which is designed to help small businesses stay solvent during the pandemic. This included vast sums funneled to more than 10,000 Catholic churches — even though the Vatican is hardly a “small business” — that was only possible because rules were waived for churches at their pushy insistence.

Meanwhile, as they seek ever more public funding, churches across the country are also busily challenging various states’ social distancing orders, insisting that the separation between state and church prevents the state from stopping churches spreading a deadly pandemic through the community.

However, the same churches are happy to extract funding from the government (meaning taxpayers of every and no religion), and now they’re pressuring Congress for more windfalls. This funding would go toward not only churches themselves, but also toward their religiously segregated schools.

“Churches want all the benefits of state/church separation, but none of the burdens,” charge FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor. “This is nothing but outright greed.”

Forcing taxpayers to fund religions they do not subscribe to is an affront to true religious liberty. The Freedom From Religion Foundation is committed to fighting these avaricious requests and standing up for our secular government and its godless founding document, the U.S. Constitution.