The relationship between faith groups and government leaders is broken. Here's why

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  • Golden Rules Okay, OK
    July 13, 2019 5:17 p.m.

    Unrepentant Progressive,
    You said: "if a given religiously oriented organization receives funds from the government, that group ought to be willing to serve all populations, not just a favored few."

    Government often subsidizes groups that benefit society even when they serve only a small population of their choice. For example, government offers grants to organizations that promote the arts or even things as specific as community gardens in urban areas or sports for handicapped seniors. Some organizations offer services specifically to minorities, women, and low-income people. Government offers tax breaks to married couples when it benefits only them and their children because the family unit benefits society by contributing to the well-being of children.

    Government is able to serve the whole population because they tax the whole population. Others are not in the position to do things on that kind of scale and the effectiveness of local connections is why government encourages these groups.

  • shamrock Salt Lake City, UT
    July 13, 2019 1:03 p.m.

    Interestingly, Utah's Constitution expressly mentions the separation of Church and State. It: "The State shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions. No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment."

  • Ranch Here, UT
    July 13, 2019 11:54 a.m.

    "Religious communities are about more than being persecuted or persecuting others,"

    -- Perhaps; but they do spend an inordinate amount of time engaged in the persecution of others.

    "...partnerships between religion and government. "

    -- Only when the "faith groups" agree to abide by the laws and are not allowed to discriminate against anyone.


    Religious leaders often care most about ... maintaining their power and control.

    "Faith leaders want to alleviate human suffering. "

    -- Partially true; Faith leaders are also responsible for much of the human suffering in the world; especially where they have political power.

    "...these Constitutional rights should be embraced as Divine rights, and not be controversial."

    -- There is no "divine right" to discriminate against others. And, no, they *should* be controversial when they promote bigotry and discrimination.


    Yes, if they're using government money.


    Religions have been known (frequently) to lack love and empathy. They've been known to waste huge amts of money on private jets, sports cars, mcMansions, etc.

  • The Atheist Provo, UT
    June 15, 2019 7:00 a.m.

    "Those who've spoken against religion here are not likely members of any religion, therefore their idea's have little bearing."

    By that logic, then, members of religion should be banned from speaking on secular things, including politics (lose their vote), economics, sports, culture, fashion, literature, etc.

  • rexwhitmer , 00
    June 13, 2019 12:40 p.m.

    For the information of the person saying this is in the Bible, not really. There are religions in this world the advocate violence to unbelievers, born both by Christian religions and otherwise. The Constitutional Amendment dealt chiefly with Christian religions, though it definitely doesn't make that distinction, and is lacking in court statements. Generally most religions make an effort to accomplish good with donations made to them, for both their congregations and nonmembers. Generally, Christianity requires that members care for non members as well as members, though most often members are the first recipients. Donators generally have a good indication of how donations will be used, and contrary to government taxes which are used willy, nilly, members have some definite idea of how their donations will be spent! Those who've spoken against religion here are not likely members of any religion, therefore their idea's have little bearing.

  • BlueHusky Saratoga Springs, UT
    June 11, 2019 2:52 p.m.

    Separation of Church and State is a fantasy. In the US, we have Utah with its LDS dominance being felt in numerous laws. Catholic power in Massachusetts blocked investigation of pederasts in the clergy.

    In Alabama, we see a law outlawing abortion regardless of rape, incest, and mother's health. Any physician involved in an abortion will be sentenced to 99 years of prison.

    This law eliminates any treatment of a medical condition that might "harm" the fetus. This leaves no treatment path for pregnant women with a health condition that jeopardizes her life that could harm or abort the fetus. So, we let the mother die? Do we then jail the physician for letting the fetus die?

    This is clearly bad law. Imposed by a religious majority in Alabama.

  • T-money$$$ Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2019 12:11 p.m.

    Given the historical nature of religion's tendency to radicalize, oppress, and incite conflict (sometimes even through violent means) among citizens of different nations, I'd say it's understandable how government leaders are apprehensive about partnering with specific religious organizations.

    We forget how lucky we are in the US to have avoided many of the religious conflicts we read about in world history books.

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2019 11:56 a.m.

    RedShirt_CollegeofHardknocks: “He is spot on. The exclusion clause prohibits the government from favoring or lending state support to one religion at the exclusion of others; the state cannot play favorites.”

    YOU are spot on, but he was not. Let’s review what Ultra Bob said: ‘Our Constitution demands that "government makes no law regarding religion". In order to accomplish that and be a government of and for the people, religion must stat [sic] out of government.’

    This represents a gross misunderstanding of the 1st amendment. Religion must NOT stay out of government, but as you correctly stated, the state should not favor one church over the others. Not playing favorites is entirely different than religion having no place in government. It’s important for people to understand that difference because religion is vital to the proper function and survival of our republic.

  • search diligently Lehi, UT
    June 10, 2019 9:44 a.m.

    A little more treatise on the concept of separation of church and state:

    First, the phrase "separation of church and state" does not actually appear anywhere in the Constitution of the United States.

    Similarly, courts have found that the principle of a "religious liberty" exists in the First Amendment, even if those words are not actually there.

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...

    The point of such an amendment is twofold. First, it ensures that religious beliefs - private or organized - are removed from attempted government control. This is the reason why the government cannot tell either you or your church what to believe or to teach.

    Second, it ensures that the government does not get involved with enforcing, mandating, or promoting particular religious doctrines, even including belief in any gods. This is what happens when the government "establishes" a church. Doing so created many problems in Europe and because of this, the authors of the Constitution wanted to try and prevent the same from happening here.

    This separating of church and state is what allows religious liberty to exist.

  • search diligently Lehi, UT
    June 10, 2019 9:25 a.m.

    How poorly the masses in the US understand the concept of separation of church and state, as manifest in the comments here. They claim America was not founded as a Christian nation and that there should be no interaction between religion and the state.

    This is a grievous misunderstanding of US history and the laws as established by our founding fathers.

    America generally referred to, i.e. the 13 colonies, were, in fact, founded largely by Christian groups, often ones fleeing oppression for their religious beliefs. They came here to practice their religion without oppression.

    The founding father definitely did not want to keep religion out of the laws. In fact, our legal system is largely founded on Christian-Judeo laws going back many centuries.

    What the founding fathers intended when they set up the constitution was to prevent a "state religion", a religion sponsored by the state that was given dominance over other religions, something that originally was happening in some of the early colonial states.

    Please do some reading and understand what is truly meant by separation of state and religion. This response has used up the allowed space or I would share more here.

  • EscherEnigma Ridgecrest, CA
    June 10, 2019 9:18 a.m.

    "That characterization seemed laughable Saturday afternoon as religious leaders took the stage at the G20 Interfaith Forum to describe what they're up to around the world."

    For example, I was just reading an article about religious leaders in Ethiopia who were threatening a tour group with violence and death if they visit, because the tour group has a mostly LGBT clientele.

    For example, the Catholic Church continues, after decades of "working" on the problem, to have new child abuse scandals pop up all around the world. All the while insisting that people with HIV/AIDS using condoms is a sin.

    For example, in every country that still has sodomy laws, they are strongly supported by religious leaders.

    For example, inter-religious violence continues to dominate from Egypt up into the Middle East and down into India.

    So if religious groups have a "bad rap" and are "better known for causing trouble than helping out", it's not because their hands are clean. They kind of have all of human history counting against them here.

  • VisiGuest Mancos, CO
    June 10, 2019 8:20 a.m.

    Whenever there is help from religious organizations, there's always a catch
    You have to listen the sermon or you won't get the help, it's baked right in
    Couldn't churches just pay their taxes instead?

  • The Dark Knight Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2019 6:03 a.m.

    I'm an actively religious person, but I don't think there should be a strong relationship between faith groups and government leaders. Despite popular beliefs to the contrary, America was not founded as a Christian nation. Seperation of Church and state is the absolute requirement of true religious freedom. If anything, some faith groups are too influential as it is.

  • Points to ponder Calgary, 00
    June 10, 2019 1:27 a.m.

    Governments vary throughout the world. They are often secular and lack love and empathy, failing to acknowledge accountability to a god as shown by their vary actions. Constant contention, ill will, and out right attack against others in government. A lack of understanding of humanity principles, the talk-the-talk, but don't walk it.

    Religions vary throughout the world, but generally strive to have love and empathy and are willing to make sacrifices to help others. Although there are some who are greedier, and seek to like many politicians, hope for the praise of the world.

    Most though appear to be generous with donations of time and money given freely, for the benefit of the recipient.

    Governments waste huge amounts of money on employee salaries rather than in granting meaningful and long-term aid to those who really need it, and fail to encourage self-reliance.

    As I see it they lack a common standard, or belief system to meaningfully interact, and thus the mistrust.

  • WallE Walla Walla, WA
    June 9, 2019 10:48 p.m.

    The US Government contracts will all kinds of entities to provide goods and services to fill a need. I don't have a problem with the Government issuing a contract to a religious entity. But the contract must be Specific, Measurable, Timely, Realistic and meet the additional requirements of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) dictated by Congress.

    It makes sense to "partner" via contract with a religious group, as an example, to expand a homeless shelter but in general it doesn't make sense for major undertakings. Faith groups generally lack the manpower and experience to deal with major projects. Accountability is essential.

  • rubbergoose Bountiful, UT
    June 9, 2019 6:50 p.m.

    The Lds church helps everyone. Generally churches and private groups are better at assistance than the Federal government. Local govt better than National.

  • JackBuckeye Marysville, OH
    June 9, 2019 2:50 p.m.

    Both government and religion should foster and encourage self-reliance. Both can be safety-nets in case of emergencies or the extreme disability of their constituents. Religious resources are dependent upon voluntary contributions and therefore are finite, unlike government resources garnered through taxation and expanding fiat currency growth. It would follow that religious authorities have to be more selective in how resources are used because the resources are finite (the widow's mite). One favorable factor for religious support is that it can delivered more cost effectively than government support through the efforts of volunteer labor. Also by having multiple sources of support, the putting of all the eggs in one basket can be avoided.

  • dmcvey Los Angeles, CA
    June 9, 2019 10:48 a.m.

    When you look at the way many Evangelicals like Franklin Graham support the current President and the Republican Party this relationship doesn't seem all that broken. It's toxic, but not broken.

  • Chancey Sandy, UT
    June 9, 2019 8:54 a.m.

    I would never give my charitable dollars to any government (unless under duress as in taxes). But I love to give to my church, I know they wisely use my money to help those in need. I also know that a lot of the time their charity is given to those outside the bounds of membership.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    June 9, 2019 8:29 a.m.

    Conservatives are fond of quoting Reagan's depiction of the "scary" scene where a man knocks on the farmer's door and says, "I'm from the government and I've come to help you".

    But is that really so different from the religious person who knocks on your door and says, in essence, "I'm from the ___________church, and I'm here to tell you why my beliefs are true and yours are not"? Both involve someone telling you that what you are doing now should be changed--and you should do it *their* way.

    And therein lies the problem with government and religious partnerships. Religious organizations never send help anonymously--they want to make sure that the recipients know full well which church sent this help--and, by the way, also want them to know where the nearest branch of said church is located.

  • Karen R. Houston, TX
    June 9, 2019 6:29 a.m.

    @ RiDal

    "Wasn't this all prophesied in the Bible somewhere?"

    I'm sure someone could find it if they wanted to.

  • RedShirt_CollegeofHardknocks Dearborn, MI
    June 8, 2019 11:21 p.m.

    My previous should have read “establishment clause” and not “exclusion”. Walking the dog while typing with word suggestion does not work well.

  • JSB , 00
    June 8, 2019 9:11 p.m.

    There are areas in which religion and government can work together. For example many churches strive to help when there are natural disasters but they must coordinate with government organizations or things would just get chaotic. If the church has manpower, supplies or money that can help, then the government would be foolish to turn it down. Churches drill wells, build roads, sponsor schools, etc. that help the community but there has to be government input also. If people are mature, things can work out. But if egos get in the road, then there can be problems.

  • Elsleuth Valencia, Ca
    June 8, 2019 8:43 p.m.

    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;” Our founding fathers feared government infringement on the rights of religious organizations. Not the other way around. They saw the effects of state sponsored religions and they did not want that as a part of a free American society.

    In our country where there are many religions with very active participants, those people can be a huge help in humanitarian efforts. Government officials who think they have all the power and all the answers are unrealistic not helpful. They should welcome all sincere religious and humanitarian efforts to help the less fortunate among us.

  • RedShirt_CollegeofHardknocks Dearborn, MI
    June 8, 2019 8:21 p.m.

    Harrison Bergeron

    “You have grossly misunderstood the First Amendment”

    He is spot on. The exclusion clause prohibits the government from favoring or lending state support to one religion at the exclusion of others; the state cannot play favorites.

    “Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together” - James Madison.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 8, 2019 7:58 p.m.

    @Harrison Bergeron - Salt Lake City, UT

    Amendment I

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,
    or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

    In my english the words "an establishment" is a noun and not a verb.

    Further the words "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" do not make sense if the "an establishment" is taken to be an action.

    However, I do admit that English was not one of my favorite classes.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    June 8, 2019 6:17 p.m.


    A qualified, Yup.

    I am saying that if a given religiously oriented organization receives funds from the government, that group ought to be willing to serve all populations, not just a favored few. Government is all of us, religion is a subset of all of us. Bankrolling a subset that further dissects the population it is willing to serve is inherently discriminatory.

    IMHO, we have fought civil and political wars to rid the country of the stench of discrimination. Let's not subsidize it now.

    I have a question to you. Many religious sects are immensely wealthy. The Catholic church, most of the tel-evangelists, the dominant faith of Utah, and most mainstream Christian religions have untold assets, and their wealth is tax free. Why don't these groups do more to alleviate suffering for those they deem worthy of their care with their own money. Why lobby government to underwrite their discrimination? Answer that question, money or humanity?

  • Joe Hilll Salt Lake City, UT
    June 8, 2019 5:39 p.m.

    I think if an religious organization that will not serve everyone wants to make a donation to a government relief program and allow the government to determine were those resources go (without strings) the government should not turn them away. Sadly beyond that the government has to act independent of such organizations to ensure that those in need are being served.

  • Red Corvette St George, UT
    June 8, 2019 5:32 p.m.

    Faith groups and their leaders have only themselves to blame.

  • Joe Hilll Salt Lake City, UT
    June 8, 2019 5:08 p.m.

    The difference is governments work to alleviate the suffering of everyone not just those that fit neatly into narrow biased belief systems. Religions shoot themselves in the foot when it comes to the claims of this article when they started pushing to restrictions on who they service.

  • Harrison Bergeron Salt Lake City, UT
    June 8, 2019 4:48 p.m.

    Ultra Bob: ‘Our Constitution demands that "government makes no law regarding religion".’

    You have grossly misunderstood the First Amendment which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;”

    This is meant to keep government from establishing an official religion to the exclusion of others (like Islamic countries) and to keep government from infringing on religious freedom. Before the constitution there were state-sponsored churches with tax-payer funded ministries. Those were slowly disestablished after the constitution was ratified. But that never meant that government would be free or devoid of religion. In fact, the first congress authorized the use of its halls for religious services.

  • GRob Talleyville, DE
    June 8, 2019 4:14 p.m.

    @unrepentant progressive

    Are you saying that an organization who is willing and able to help some people in some situation should not be allowed to unless they are willing to help all people in every situation? Or can government take genuine offers of help from anyone willing to lend a hand, even if that help has limits?

  • sgallen Salt Lake City, UT
    June 8, 2019 3:56 p.m.

    Here in the US, religions have historically caused more mental distress than they’ve solved. However, in the developing world I can see how they can play a humanitarian role. Those countries just need to make sure that the religions they partner with don’t have an ulterior motive.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    June 8, 2019 2:57 p.m.

    Our Constitution demands that "government makes no law regarding religion". In order to accomplish that and be a government of and for the people, religion must stat out of government.

  • David Centerville, UT
    June 8, 2019 11:37 a.m.

    This article reveals the strengths of religion to respond to global crisis, and the weakness of government:

    Government leaders often care most about getting re-elected and maintaining their power and control. Faith leaders want to alleviate human suffering. That is quite a contrast. Voters should demand governments respect religious groups and the right to worship. Governments should extend the right to assemble, and the right of free speech--these Constitutional rights should be embraced as Divine rights, and not be controversial.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    June 8, 2019 11:23 a.m.

    It is not the job of government, which represent us all, to understand religion. It is up to organized religious groups to understand what government expects from religion.

    Religious groups, especially in theocracies and mono-religious countries, expect that their dogma will dictate what, when, where and why a given charitable service can be given. This mentality has invaded our country with the call by religious fundamentalists for the right to discriminate against disfavored populations through a profession of faith.

    If we live in a country that seeks equal opportunity for all, then we can not leave it up to religiously oriented organizations to become funded by government (for this is surely what they seek) to minister and not mend. Denying care and service, or giving it with strings attached is nothing more than proselytizing by another name.

  • Golden Rules Okay, OK
    June 8, 2019 11:17 a.m.

    Religious groups and governments often have the same goals - to help those in need. That doesn't necessarily mean they should work together to work toward that. They can work separately to help others without creating partnerships that would require government or religious leaders to alter each other's decisions. Many of the reasons this article listed that these type of partnerships are avoided are valid and reasonable. These groups can support each other in their efforts by encouraging and giving permissions, but the separation between government and religion is an important one.

  • unrepentant progressive Bozeman, MT
    June 8, 2019 11:14 a.m.

    Here's the problem that those of us skeptical of the premise of this article, that faith groups should be more involved in community solutions.

    Faith groups wish to bend policy towards dogma. In the US, faith groups seek to serve only those clients they deem "appropriate", and deny services to disfavored populations. We also have a rather unpleasant history with faith intertwined with legitimate government tasks. This is especially so in theocratic or mono-religious countries. The priests, ministers, mullahs, etc just can help themselves when engaged in politics.

    If faith groups would serve all who suffer, denying no one services no matter what doctrine might say, then all would be okay. However, this is not what happens, and proposing so violates experience and common sense.

  • RiDal Sandy, UT
    June 8, 2019 10:30 a.m.

    Wasn't this all prophesied in the Bible somewhere?

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    June 8, 2019 10:25 a.m.

    Government has to serve everyone. It has to deal in reality.