Over 200 houses of worship were destroyed in "superstorm" Sandy. Now their leaders are finding out that unlike charities and private schools that are receiving federal money to rebuild, they are not. Religious institutions are considered ineligible according to FEMA regulations. But if they run a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter, or if they have community activities that are nonsectarian, they may be considered for federal aid. The question becomes what percentage of church activity is nonsectarian?
I can't speak about other religions, but it seems to me the point of a Christian church is to spread the gospel. And that should be the focus of all they do. Church sport teams, food drives, dances whatever! Their purpose should be to introduce people who haven't had an encounter with Jesus to Him, or to get them reacquainted. And if that's their purpose, and our country has decided that they want to separate Church from State, then the Churches should all be ineligible to receive any federal money. I'd also remind you that churches and charities are usally tax exempt as well.
You no doubt remember that in Oklahoma, back in 1995, a terrorists bomb destroyed 324 buildings in a 16 block radius. But do you remember the fight over houses of worship being ruled ineligible for FEMA assistance? The pressure boiled over to Congress and they decided that houses of worship are important to the fabric of a community and to fund their restoration. In 2002 George Bush had FEMA change it's rules so houses of worship could qualify for their non secular work. In 2006 FEMA decided to reimburse churches for their efforts to save lives during hurricane Katrina. And it seems like there's pressure building on Congress again to open up the money to help rebuild the houses of worship destroyed in Sandy.
As an American I'm glad to see our country recognize and support the incredible contributions that religious institutions have made to our quality of life. As a Christian I would urge the churches to not take the money.
In 1 Thessalonians 2 Paul points out the benefit to the church if it doesn't receive charity. He talks about how hard he and the other witnesses worked so as to not be a burden on the community. It also proves that they had no other motive! Plenty of people would have hooked Paul and the boys up with a place to stay and fed them and so on and so forth. But then others could say "those guys are hustlers". So when Paul and the others came to a town they worked as hard as everyone else if not harder! Then they were looked at as equals. Then they could deliver the gospel message and not be accused of just peddling it for profit.
Christian's should be te ones to take care of their churches not the government. If Jesus is really at the center of your life, and those whom you attend church with are your brothers and sisters you'll work day and night to rebuild together. And then, like Jesus promised, "The world will recognize you as my followers by your love for each other".
If you aren't there yet, then this storm like all of life's storms, is serving to mold you more in to the person God created you to be. It's impossible for God to change you if the Federal government bails you out when you become uncomfortable. Even Job, whom God bragged about, needed to become...um really uncomfortable, in order to be changed for his own betterment!
So in conclusion America benefits humongously from having lots of religious institutions. Christian churches I believe harm themselves by asking for federal assistance. You can vote on that issue as it's our poll question of the day on the left side of the blog or call in after 3 to talk about it further.