Out of Control and Into Control
The idea of offering respect to the religious institutions has never been a terrible thought. It is a respect originally generated from the purpose of wisdom that can be provided by these entities. They hold the status of non-profit organizations in the same fashion as charities, due to the services provided to the community. This very idea at its core holds steady with beliefs set down by some of the great fathers and mothers of the country. In fact, it is crucial to the ideal that no religion is established by the government or prohibited in its practice. It is a principle that would be difficult for any citizen to avoid supporting.
However, it has begun to feel that such a simple principle has been corrupted and ruined by the activities of these organizations. That is not to say that all are, but when an organization grows large enough to create its own form of lobbying, it may be time to re-examine this situation. As many have concluded in the past, there is an understood and well-supported case that the US Constitution speaks of a separation of church and state. This separation works to help offer the religious organizations the special tax exempt status, yet some of these organizations have become a political tool to influence the congregations. This is the line. Once a tax exempt entity enters the arena of the state, the separation is gone and the exemption is void.
Now some might consider it to be difficult to make a judgment of how far is too far or that freedom of religion is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Consider that statement and remember that it is a barrier to help protect the state from the establishment of a single religion while protecting the various religions from being persecuted as being the wrong religion for the whole country. It is not a matter of negotiation for how far, but a simple concept of keeping the structure protected. If a tax exempt organization steps into a position that will influence the state, it loses its status.
On the same principle, the state does not cross the line either to establish a single tax exempt organization above others. Now, it is understandable that one religion or charitable group might have a majority, but it needs to remain separate. Imagine what would happen if the Red Cross become so imbedded in the state that other charities could not raise donations to support their cause. Yes, we know that the Red Cross serves in emergencies and disasters, but we still need those charities that support research into cancer and various social causes. We need to have a level playing field and not some lopsided debate.
In the end, the point remains that tax exempt status for non-profit organizations should be honored to those that remain inside the guidelines. The boundaries occur for a reason and once they are broken, all the guarantees of a stable society are in jeopardy. What is the point of a democracy if the voices of the many are drowned out by the voices of the few? There is no doubt in my mind that if we can find our balance again, we will never stop our progress as a country and a world of human kind.