Unknowingly Entrapping Ourselves:
Is there a danger in receiving government funding?
PLEASE NOTE: I want to make very clear from the outset that my goal in covering this topic is not to beat up on any particular ministry. Instead, I simply want to showcase a real life example of what can happen—and the predicament you can get yourself into—when government and its dangers are not properly understood.
A South Carolina Protestant foster care ministry recently faced the loss of federal funding and licensing because they only work with families who share their Christian beliefs. The CEO of the nonprofit, which has been in existence for decades, said that their ministry was privately funded for a long time up until a few years ago.
“We did it for most of the time without government support, but four years ago, because the need in South Carolina was so great, and we were out of resources, we said, ‘If you could help with a little bit of our operating costs, we could recruit more families.’”
We must stop and ask an important question: Is it a proper (God-given) role of civil government to give or dispense charity? Secondarily, should non-profit and charitable organizations seek government funding?
Let’s use a parallel example for clarity. If I, as an individual, forcibly make someone give me money so that I can help another individual, is that charity? Or, if I accept money that I know is stolen to give to another, is that charity? The obvious answer in both circumstances is no. Regardless of purpose, anytime an individual is forced to “give” against their wishes is an act of theft not charity. What right then does the civil government have to do this? Is not civil government simply a collective of individual rights and liberties?
Besides this simple parallel example, there are many biblical guidelines and principles that clarify who should give charity, who should get it, and how it is to be given. That content, however, is beyond the scope of this post. You can purchase the Biblical Principles of Government DVD series for a thorough treatise on the proper role of government or schedule IPS President, Mike Winther, to teach a charity seminar at your church.
The bottom line is that government should not be in the business of providing charity. Unfortunately, a host of organizations fail to understand the reasons for this, including many Christian non-profits. They view government involvement and inclusion as a good thing versus a danger. Make no mistake, however, government handouts come with a cost—though it might be years later.
In conclusion, it is important to note that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has sent a letter granting this particular Christian foster care ministry an exception from Obama-era nondiscrimination rules, which means the organization maintains their licensing and government funding. However, this is beside the fundamental point. While many groups cheer the decision as a win for religious liberty, they further solidify the false ideology that it is ok for government to hand out money for charitable purposes as long as both Christian and non-Christian groups are eligible to receive money without having to compromise their beliefs. This is a symptom of a deeper root cause produced by failure to understand biblically what government should and SHOULD NOT do. A return to principle is the path to restoration and it is this “principled path” that the Institute for Principle Studies researches and teaches.
It is important to note that this whole scenario could have been avoided if the ministry was resolute on refusing government funds from the start. Because charity is not a proper role of civil government, IPS refuses to seek or accept government funding of any kind. Standing on principle often comes with a cost and we accept that. Thank you to all who make our work possible!
Author: Steven Butner
About Principle Posts
Principle Post is a short, periodic thought on a current news topic designed to insert a principle into the core of the discussion. Written by varying staff members, Principle Post seeks to divert civil debate away from ad hominem attacks to actual arguments with an emphasis on ethics (right versus wrong) and the proper role of government from a biblical, individual liberty perspective.
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