Written by Don Byrd

In a new column for Baptist News Global, Bill Leonard connects the dots between the financial and membership declines confronting many religious denominations on one hand, and the temptation to seek government support on the other. Whether in the form of direct aid to churches, like the dispute in the Trinity Lutheran Church case, or the push to politicize houses of worship, or the never ending call for expanded school vouchers that send taxpayer money to fund religious education, Leonard argues that these appeals to the government for support of religion may ultimately push people away.

Here is an excerpt:

Do numerical, financial and cultural declines compel churches to seek expanded assistance from the secular government?  As culture-privilege deteriorates, does government-privilege become increasingly essential? Yet increased reliance on government funds and influence may become self-fulfilling prophecy, driving new generations away from religious institutions that promote political candidates, demand fiscal entitlements in the name of religious liberty, or cannot make the gospel case in the public square.

Leonard also recognizes the great work of the Baptist Joint Committee and its continuing “heritage of dissent” in challenging these current “church-state entanglements.” Read the whole thing.

-For more on the Trinity Lutheran Church case, see the BJC’s case resource page.
-For more on why the IRS ban on church electioneering should stay in place, and to make your voice heard, see the BJC’s resource page on why churches should support community not candidates.
-For more on why school vouchers are a bad idea for religious liberty, see Holly Hollman’s 2011 column explaining why the BJC has long opposed school vouchers.