Separating Charity and State

Why should taxpayers be forced to support charitable groups?

Shortly after taking office, George W. Bush created an office of faith-based initiatives, making it easier for religious groups to receive federal funds in order to minister to the poor, conduct emergency relief operations, and perform similar good works.

Social conservatives cheered. But many liberal skeptics objected on constitutional grounds. His efforts were "a bold assault on the separation of church and state," wrote Ellen Willis in The Nation. Bush had "punched a dangerous hole in the wall between church and state," argued The New York Times, declaring that the "initiative runs counter to decades of First Amendment law." Church/state groups sued. Progressives fumed.

Clearly, those who criticized the Bush initiative hate the poor, believe people slammed by natural disasters should just suck it up, and think compassion is for losers. Right? Of course not. Bush's critics didn't object to helping the unfortunate. They objected to how the administration went about it.

You could say much the same about Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has caused considerable alarm with an advisory opinion he issued earlier this year—at a legislator's request—about state aid to charitable groups. Virginia's constitution clearly prohibits allocating public funds to charities, and Cuccinelli's opinion said so.

This is not a point of arcane contention. The constitution prohibits "any appropriation of public funds" for "any charitable institution which is not owned or controlled by the commonwealth." A.E. Dick Howard, who led the commission that rewrote the state constitution, says Cuccinelli "got it right—the language is pretty plain. The concern from the [drafting] committee was that if you open the floodgates and you give money to some, they all stand in line queuing up and asking for money. They were trying to save the General Assembly from themselves."

Nice try, but it didn't work. For years, lawmakers simply ignored the rules. But once Cuccinelli produced his opinion, they no longer could. In the wake of the AG's finding, state agencies froze various funds while contracts were rewritten.

Now a new concern has arisen. Cultural groups that historically have received state funding—until the recent recession, anyway—worry they no longer will be eligible, either. "It's our worst fear," a director of the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts told The Washington Post a few days ago. From 2004 to 2008, Wolf Trap—one of a laundry list of non-state agencies to enjoy the state's largess—received more than $3.5 million from Virginia taxpayers.

Doling out money to non-state agencies is a bipartisan activity, and members of both parties are trying to figure out how they can continue doing what the constitution plainly says they may not do. "Many of these organizations and institutions provide an enhanced quality of life for Virginians," says Republican Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment.

Nobody disputes that—just as (nearly) nobody disputes the assertion that America's churches, synagogues, and mosques greatly enhance the quality of life in the United States. The fact that they improve the quality of life, however, does not —or at least should not—override constitutional constraints on what the government may do. Henrico Del. Jimmie Massie is right to suggest lawmakers should not "do cartwheels around the constitution."

Doing cartwheels around the constitution, however, is precisely what so many would like to do whenever they think the ends justify the means. Indeed, throughout the Bush years liberals complained loudly about how conservatives in the Bush administration felt the war on terror justified constitutional contraventions such as warrantless wiretaps, indefinite detention without trial, and even torture.

The response from those on the right sometimes gave the impression that they felt it was worth trashing the constitution if doing so would save the nation. Now, some in Virginia seem to give the impression that it's worth trashing the constitution to save the Chatham Train Depot and the Steamboat Era Museum in Irvington.

Cuccinelli's critics have called his opinion on state aid to charities draconian, ultraconservative, irrelevant, politically motivated, and probably much worse. The one thing they have not called it—because they cannot—is the only thing that would really matter: incorrect.

A Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch. This article originally appeared at the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  • steve||

    Is that hand putting a five'r in or taking it out? You can't really tell any more these days.

  • ||

    A. Barton Hinkle Heimer-Schmidt
    Hey, that's my name, too
    Whenever we go out
    The people always shout
    There goes A. Barton Hinkle Heimer Schmidt
    LALALALALALALA

    I guess Mainer is on vacation.

  • ||

    Wow, that really does make a lot of sense dude.

    www.real-privacy.int.tc

  • ||

    just as (nearly) nobody disputes the assertion that America's churches, synagogues, and mosques greatly enhance the quality of life in the United States

    Thanks for the slam on the roughly 10% of the population who are atheists or agnostics. Are you somehow unaware that atheism is hugely more predominant among libertarians than among the general population?

  • Hemlock||

    The author was addressing only the religious charities that actually receive funds.

    Your outrage is misplaced.

  • ||

    Uh, no, the author went out of his way to give props to religiosity. I realize he wrote this for a small town newspaper where grovelling before organized religion is obligatory, but he's now writing for a larger audience with a high percentage of atheists where that doesn't go over as well.

    The article reads perfectly well and makes his point without that sentence.

  • ##||

    No it doesn't. The point being made is that if it's okay to ignore the constitution because Wolf Trap and the Steamboat Era Museum enhance the quality of life then why shouldn't you ignore constitutional separation of church and state since most people feel that religion enhances the quality of their lives.

  • Sparky||

    Wait a minute now. I see more people on H&R commenting that charity work SHOULD be left to churches, synagogues, etc. Seems to me the libertarian view is to have these groups providing charity rather than some state sponsored organization using tax dollars to do so.

  • yonemoto||

    when an atheist church gets money from the state call me.

  • T||

    So me what an atheist church is, first.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    The Ayn Rand Institute?

  • The Derider||

    Lol

  • yonemoto||

    +++

  • yonemoto||

    when the ARI starts giving money to soup kitchens call me.

  • The Derider||

    Wouldn't that be like Nazis building synagogues?

  • ||

    I don't see how being an atheist means you must think that religious institutions have no social value. I don't think that.

  • ||

    I never claimed that all atheists must think as I do. Nor did I say that no religious institutions have any value.
    However I dispute ABH's assertion that America's churches, synagogues, and mosques greatly enhance the quality of life in the United States. Whatever enhancement they do is greatly offset by the damage they do. And remember he's making a blanket statement about all US religious institutions.

    You're welcome to idealize religious institutions to your little heart's content.

  • MJ||

    Take the chip off your shoulder and take slow deep cleansing breaths. Saying that religious organizations contribute to society is not meant to be an insult to your beliefs, whatever they are (it does say something about your confidence in those beliefs that you have such an unhinged reaction).

  • DLM||

    Whatever enhancement they do is greatly offset by the damage they do.

    You could just as easily be talking about atheism.

  • Sku||

    First, less than 5% of the population identifies as athiest or agnostic in surveys. Second, probably 50% of those who identify as atheist or agnostics nevertheless would not dispute that churches and synagogues greatly enhance the quality of life in the United States. They don't attend them or believe in the theology they propound, but they may appreciate the cultural and charitable services they provide. So it's really only about 2-3% of the population that would suggest churches are not a benefit to the United States. And 97% is "nearly all"...thus, I would say it's just a factual statement, not a slam.

  • ||

    First, where are your linkies, particularly for your claim that 50% of those who identify as atheist or agnostics nevertheless would not dispute that churches and synagogues greatly enhance the quality of life in the United States.

    Even if hardcore, religion-hating atheists are only 2-3% of the population, Hinkle's statement is gratuitous and unnecessary, and not very libertarian.

  • Sparky||

    So what you're really saying then is you hate him for not making you feel special. Gratuitous and unnecessary has nothing to do with the libertarian viewpoint.

  • ||

    Sigh. You're trying so very, very hard Sparky, but that's still an F.

    No, I'm taking him to task for going out of his way to marginalize anyone who doesn't uniformly and uncritically cheerlead for the assertion that America's churches, synagogues, and mosques greatly enhance the quality of life in the United States.

    In other words he's making me feel special in a bad way.

  • Sparky||

    Yes, you're mad because he's making you feel marginalized (not special). I hate to tell you but when you're in the margin...

    I'm an atheist and I don't have any problem with his statement. Anyone who would say that religious institutions don't do any good for the communities isn't paying attention.

    If my comment is worth an F then all of your posts together should be marked Incomplete.

  • Joe R.||

    This atheist would say that some of them enhance it. Some make it worse. I'm looking at you, dry counties.

  • cynical||

    Don't be a thinned-skinned dipshit. We're fucking capitalists here. Religions improve quality of life for their customers, but that doesn't that everyone shares the same tastes or desires. Some people like Michael Bay movies. As long as they don't force us to watch them, it's still a net gain for society to have them.

  • ||

    I did not see the slam. You are too easily offended or a “radical” Atheist: meaning you look down of people of faith. Then again you could be confused on the concept of “Organized Religion” doing good works… There are many charities that are not faith based but a lot of the little ones are. There may be “organized” atheistic or agonistic organizations out there doing good works but I am unfamiliar with them.

  • DLM||

    There are many charities that are not faith based but a lot of the little ones are.

    And any good little atheist must actively discriminate against those charities that happen to have a religious basis and can't bring himself to just treat everyone equally. Or maybe he's just a statist at heart and only support government sponsored charities.

  • Untermensch||

    …just as (nearly) nobody disputes the assertion that America's churches, synagogues, and mosques greatly enhance the quality of life in the United States.

    And in one fell swoop A. Barton Hinkle says that most H&R commenters = almost nobody.

  • Hemlock||

    Based on what? The large amounts of libertarian atheiest soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters, and clothing donations as opposed to the paucity of religious ones?

  • ||

    Total non-sequitur. And completely gratuitous.

  • A Serious Man||

    Do you voluntary your time, money, and efforts to help poor people? If not, then it seems odd that you're begrudging the FACT that the majority of charitiable works in this country are religiously motivated. And no, there's nothing anti-libertarian about admiring religion since no one is forcing you to believe or to contribute.

  • ||

    Why yes ASM, I do. Not that that has anything to do with this discussion.

    Care to quote where I said anything negative about anycharitable works on this thread?

    Also, got linky to support your statement that the majority of charitiable [sic] works in this country are religiously motivated?

    Nor did I state that admiring religion was anti-libertarian. What I did state was that ABH wasn't doing himself any favors by going out of his way to slam atheists.

    It's very telling how the mere mention that there are people not enamored of religion brings on the howling attacks.

  • Sparky||

    The problem is, as shown by the many other atheists commenting, we don't feel like we've been "slammed". Just because he hurt your feelings doesn't mean the rest of us give a shit.

  • Fabius||

    It has not been my impression that greater than 50 percent of H&R commenters are atheists in the first place. I'd feel pretty confident saying that significantly less than 50 percent of commenters actually dispute that churches, synagogues, and mosques enhance the quality of life in the United States, given that even among the atheists on H&R, many recognize the benefits of these organizations.

  • prolefeed||

    And in one fell swoop A. Barton Hinkle says that most H&R commenters = almost nobody.

    Technically, well over 99% of the American populace has never commented on H&R.

  • The Derider||

    While the Virginia constitution may specifically prohibit charitable donations by the state, the US Federal constitution doesn't.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    The U.S. Constitution only allows the federal government to do things that are pursuant to the specifically enumerated powers delegated to it in the text - as per the 10th Amendment.

    I don't recall there being any article in the Constitution that authorized the federal government to finance private charities.

  • ||

    General Welfare Clause

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Nope - that doesn't cover it.

  • yonemoto||

    How about the good and welfare clause?

  • prolefeed||

    The General Welfare clause in Article I Section 8 is an introduction to the enumerated powers that follow and not itself a grant of power.

    Just like the preamble about "well-regulated militias" doesn't mean only militias have the right to own and bear arms.

  • The Derider||

    OK well the supreme court and I disagree with you.

  • T||

    "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

    I'll take James Madison over both of you.

  • The Derider||

    And then Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase show up on my side and its a HISTORY CAGEMATCH

  • ||

    Several church organization take donations, but do not use them to support their organization. 100% of it goes into the relief funds with the donated money, from the government or elsewhere going to the recipients. Is that giving to a church?

  • Realist||

    When the government forces you to pay taxes....it's not a donation!

  • prolefeed||

    And when a "charity" gets money by robbing taxpayers essentially at gunpoint via government proxies, the resulting outcome is not charity, no matter who gets the loot.

  • Realist||

    Yes, that was my point.

  • ||

    Several church organization take donations, but do not use them to support their organization. 100% of it goes into the relief funds with the donated money, from the government or elsewhere going to the recipients. Is that giving to a church?

  • Mike.S||

    Money is fungible. There's no way to "separate" funds from different sources.

    It's still unconstitutional state-supported charity. I fully expect that Virginia's feckless legislators will find some shady work-around along such lines, however.

    Everywhere and always, subverting constitutions for political gain is the chief work of legislators.

  • Realist||

    "Why should taxpayers be forced to support charitable groups?"
    Or any group???

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Or any idividuals either.

    Programs like food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are, in substance, mandating charity from one group of people to another.

  • The Derider||

    Or the military?

  • BRM||

    Nope. Military protects everyone. Medicaid,etc only benefit the people getting the money.

    To support the military is like buying a service. To be forced to give money to the other is like being forced to give money to someone because they have a gun.

  • The Derider||

    What if I don't think the price of military protection is worth it? Can I refuse to pay taxes? Or will the bad government make me pay taxes with their guns?

  • ||

    You may not like the military but you still receive the benefit of having a military.
    How does it benefit me to pay for someone else to receive wellfare/medicaid/medicare?

  • The Derider||

    Welfare--Fewer people will try to rob you.

    Medicaid/Medicare-- More people will be healthy and able to work, and you can derive an economic surplus by hiring them.

    All 3 have the effect of improving the academic and economic outcomes for poor children. You will benefit from the economic surplusses they create in their lives.

  • ||

    I have to give them money so they will not try to rob me ... You have no problem with this? How is this not theft?

  • The Derider||

    Its as much "theft" as me being forced to pay taxes to support the military.

  • ||

    "Its as much "theft" as me being forced to pay taxes to support the military."

    Constitutionality. That's the difference. IF YOU DUN WANT NO UHMURRICAN HEROEZ PROTECTIN U Y DONT U MOVE TO SOMALIA!!!23$#!@$!111111

  • Realist||

    "Welfare--Fewer people will try to rob you."
    The more people that try to rob me will reduce the welfare rolls and the population!

  • ||

    And the deficit! I think you're on to something there.

  • ||

    Wow an easy question! Yes, the government will come with guns and lock you up... They have the power to TAX and they do so,,, this is not a new thing nor is it necessarily bad,,, but it has al sort of potential to be abused…

  • Barry Loberfeld||

    From HERE:

    We don't need state charities for the same reason we don't need state churches, state families, or state anything else, i.e., we don't need state socialism because we already have civil society. Government, organized armed force, exists only to provide governance -- basically, defense against the violent criminal element (domestic and foreign, e.g., bin Laden). Condemning limited government for not performing the functions of the charity, the church, the family, the firm, the school, and the other organs of the body politic is like condemning the skeleton for not performing the functions of the brain, the heart, the stomach, the liver, the lungs, and the other organs of the body proper. Freedom is the framework that secures all other virtues.
  • Sku||

    This is complex. On the one hand, I realize that private charities do a MUCH better job than state charities, so I'd rather not have the state fund only less efficient state-run charities, much like I'd rather the state give voucherss for private schools than fund only state-run monopoly education. It's no pure libertarian ideal, but it's better that money go to private than public charities. Of course, the question is, would it all just be going to public charities if it was not funnelled to private, or would it reduce the deficit or taxes? If the latter, better that, but that's not how the government operates. I don't like the whole faith based initiatives becuase that gets the state's hand in the church. No church should take money from the state. It does not come without strings attached, and no church should have to check with the state instead of checking with God about what to do with it's programs/charity.

  • prolefeed||

    It's no pure libertarian ideal, but it's better that money go to private than public charities.

    "public charity" is an oxymoron. You can't rob people and turn the loot over to others and rightfully label it charity. The separation in time between the theft and the redistribution doesn't cleanse the transaction.

    What would you think if you saw an IRS agent accompanied by a homeless person (or someone in a wheelchair, or whatever -- pick the most needy individual imaginable) go up to your neighbor's house, point a gun at your neighbor and demand they haul out their wallet and hand over money, and then the IRS agent immediately hands it over to the homeless person?

    Would you label that charity?

    Is that what Jesus was talking about in the New Testament?

    So many lefty pastors simply don't get how immoral all that is.

  • The Derider||

    Mark 11 15-19
    And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, "Is it not written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations'? But you have made it a den of robbers."

  • ||

    You're in way over your head.

  • The Derider||

    Please give me your interpretation of Jesus destroying a market and referring to the businessmen there as "robbers".

  • ||

    It wasn't that He destroyed a "market" for the sake of destroying a market, as I think, you presume.
    Doves, particularly were the sacrifice of choice of the poor, especially the indigent travelers that came the furthest, for they were the cheapest. They were also sold at temples for eons, as an accommodation item for those that couldn't bring a lamb or a calf (the prefered sacrifice) many miles. Normally one could purchase a sacrifice at the temple, from the clergy at the temple, again as an accommodation item.
    What incensed Christ, was the cartel that inflated the price of doves at MAJOR temple activities, obviously to profit at HIGHER margins from those on the fringe, not that the market activity itself was sinful and blasphemous.

  • ||

    So no judge in Virginia has ever noticed this little section of the state constitution before and issued an injunction? NONE of them?

  • prolefeed||

    Apparently not.

    At least not recently.

  • ||

    Judges do not just up and "notice" laws/constitutions and invalidate them. That would be the gold standard of judicial activism, and would rightly decried by both Team Red and Team Blue.

    Courts only issue injunctions and opinions when a case is brought before them. So nobody in Virginia cared enough about this to sue the state. What ABH got absolutely right is that politicians on both teams want to be able to funnel tax dollars to their favorite groups. *cough* patronage *cough*

  • ||

    They just ignore the law like Speed limits or starting a little war in Libya,,, it is all “…nudge, nudge and wink, wink…” we will just pretend it is not happening or that we and Europe (NATO) are basically violating international law… In Libya’s case the Western World has had its fill of Momar G. and are going to get rid of him once and for all,,, everybody is in agreement and have just ignored the law… I think a bomb on Momars head would be fine but the way we are doing it is sleazy…

  • BRM||

    Taxes should not be based on anything in the way of a lifestyle choice. If you want to live in a big house and have a huge number of kids all the while pouring money into one charity or another, then fine. Be happy and live well.

    If you want to live in a small house, with a small family, also fine. Be happy and live well.

    There is no reason that a family who chooses to have 8 kids should expect their neighbor with 2 kids to help pay the bills for their 8. There is no reason that the guy who buys a McMansion should look over the fence at the family living in an apartment and expect them to help pay the mortgage.

    Same with charity. You do it because you want to, not because you get a reward for it. The tax rates should be silent on this matter. People should do as they see fit and support their churches, etc or some other charity as they determine is best.

    Everyone else should be left out of the cost just like they are left out of the decision.

  • The Derider||

    What if the level of public charity does not meet the level of need? Oh well?

  • yonemoto||

    who decides what the level of need is? If you feel like it's not meeting the level of need that makes you happy, reach into your pocket or at least start trying to convince others to voluntarily reach into theirs.

  • The Derider||

    Ok, lets assume that I reach into my pocket and convince all my friends to do the same, and there are still orphans on the street. What then?

  • Sparky||

    Then there are orphans on the street. If you still feel responsible for them then you're not working hard enough to help them all. You can't force me to care about people that I don't care about.

  • The Derider||

    Thanks for being honest.

    Libertarianism -- "You can't force me to care about orphans on the street"

  • Sparky||

    Just so that others don't get upset, I don't recall ever claiming to be a libertarian. I share some views with people here who claim they are but I don't agree with everything.

    I already have enough people that I do care about to take care of. I make a modest income so if you want me to care about more people then tell the government to stop raping my paycheck.

  • The Derider||

    If the government stopped raping your paycheck, what percentage of the difference would you give to charity?

    I doubt the answer would be 100%

  • Sparky||

    You're right, it wouldn't be 100%. But it also wouldn't be 0%. Since it's my money that I rightfully earned I would spend some of it on making my family's life more comfortable and fuck you if you don't approve. I would also put more money aside for the college education for my two children. Once I have reached a level of comfort that I am happy with then I would start giving money to charities that I deemed worthwhile. If I thought that your keep orphans off the street charity did good work then I would throw some money their way.

  • The Derider||

    I'm not attacking you personally. I'm sure you care for your family deeply. I don't think you'd kick Oliver twist if he asked you for another bowl of gruel or anything.

    I'm advancing the argument that without the state forcing people to support charitable causes, there would not be enough private charity to meet the needs of the disadvantaged.

  • Sparky||

    However, you also could possibly argue that without the state taking a chunk of everyone's money there would be less disadvantaged people that needed to be cared for. It always pisses me off when multimillionaire actors tell me that I'm not giving up enough of my money to help their pet causes. I guess they feel that the 75%* that they're giving to the government in taxes is being wisely spent on helping the less fortunate.

    *I realize this probably isn't the right number but I'm heading out and don't have time to look it up so decided to engage in a bit of hyperbole.

  • BRM||

    Prove that allegation.

    I doubt that is true as most people will reach out to those around them in help.

    I bet that charitable giving will change in it's nature. That like the purchases you make that are not subsidized by other people's paychecks, you would see people being more careful and more thoughtful.

    If you go to the store to buy carrots, you look at the price and the carrots to determine if the amount and quality of the carrots are worth their price and if not, you buy something else. So with unsubsidized charity, you would look at a group and determine if they are really of suitable quality and capable of making a real improvement in the community before giving. If they weren't, you wouldn't not give, you would simply give to someone doing better.

  • ||

    Disadvantaged...how? Is Ollie Twist the standard for a gimp? If so, I can flip him a buck and ignore the lip pierced panhandling methpud that COULD work but won't. An attitude those doling out (tax) funds that are not theirs never achieve.

  • yonemoto||

    Derider, you are a dumbass.

    There is no guarantee that with the state forcing people to support charitable causes, there will be enough to meet the needs of the disadvantaged, either. Furthermore, empirical evidence suggests that that it certainly isn't the case, and that private charity is more efficient than public charity ANYWAY.

  • BRM||

    Derider, I think you are just trying to troll for an argument here.

    "The level of need" is an arbitrary term that you would set at what ever number suits your argument's needs at any moment.

    Define this and prove your allegation that people won't give if the Govt isn't there to prod them. Also, what do you say to the argument that as a given road, school, park, or library costs a certain amount and that most local governments have to balance their budgets with real money, letting people donate and deduct means other people (who due to lower wages or fixed income can't afford to donate and deduct in return) have to pay more?

  • Sue Cvach||

    some aethiests/agnostics work with religious charity groups because it can be a fairly clean way to get help to people who need it right here right now. The infrastructure is already in place and there is no profit motive. Here in the back of beyond the work is mostly done by volunteers and what comes in flows back out to the needy with enough people watching to be sure that there is no fraud in the process, and it is a combination of public and private donation that gets the job done- not that the black hole of neediness is ever going to be filled, but we make a run at it.

    I'd rather not see tax money go to charities; it's much more effective for people to give locally out of their own pockets and out of their own time and effort. So cut taxes and let people contribute first-hand, taking responsiblity for their own back yards. More opportunity for innovation that can then help elsewhere.

  • pprados||

    The AG opinion took a few months for people to really start reacting. There are ways around the problem of the ban on charitable giving. Nonetheless the AG opinion states the unsurprising notion that the VA Constitution means what it says. What is interesting is the secondary effect this will have on charitable giving by localities.
    My analysis of that last issue can be found here:
    http://northernvirginialawyer......izing.html

  • ||

    Are you giving money to the Charity if 100% of that money goes to victims of some disaster. I know of at least two religious disaster relief organization that pay the salaries out of their own funds, and 100% of the donated funds goes to relief activities. Are the donation thus are not supporting the relief organizations. What is the Virginia tax status on that?

  • ||

    Are you giving money to the Charity if 100% of that money goes to victims of some disaster. I know of at least two religious disaster relief organization that pay the salaries out of their own funds, and 100% of the donated funds goes to relief activities. Are the donation thus are not supporting the relief organizations. What is the Virginia tax status on that?

  • Norm Leahy||

    On the question about whether anyone had noticed this little constitutional provision before...yes, quite often. I was writing about it for years, as were a few folks at the Washington Post. In 2007 I was assured by a General Assembly member, and then-AG Bob McDonnell, that the question was being looked into.

    No AG's opinion was ever issued, likely because no one approved of what the opinion would say (that these direct grants were unconstitutional).

    I take it as a stroke of luck that when I asked my Delegate to pose the question to Cuccinelli's office that he not only agreed to do so, but stood up to pressure from his colleagues to drop the matter.

  • o rly||

    "greatly enhance quality of life"? How? By operating a scam that dupes their members into squandering a recommended 10% of their income, and their own time? By perpetuating a culture of dependency? (my town had like, 5 homeless guys, then some bleeding heart types opened up all these theistically-linked government-propped charities, now I can spot dozens of leech bums every day on errands. And they aren't local.) By encouraging their followers to believe in vague and un-scientific principles of supposedly great/dire importance if not heeded? (a population pre-primed to accept goofy illogical ideologies like the nanny-state, agw, collectivism in general) All these things "greatly enhance the quality of life"?

  • Sparky||

    By operating a scam that dupes their members into voluntarily squandering a recommended 10% of their income, and their own time?

    FTFY. Given the free choice of how to spend their money who are you to tell them what to do with it?

    then some bleeding heart types opened up all these theistically-linked government-propped charities

    I think I see the problem there.

    You don't agree with religion. Neither do I but I'm perfectly happy to let those who do live their lives as they see fit.

  • BigT||

    Religions keep promising 'saving' and grace. Isn't that fraud? Voluntary got nothin to do with it. And how about all the interference in science teaching? Religions definitely do more harm than benefit, unless pacifying the ignorant masses counts.

  • ||

    Who are you to decide that religion does more harm than good?

  • ||

    [(a population pre-primed to accept goofy illogical ideologies like the nanny-state, agw, collectivism in general) All these things "greatly enhance the quality of life"?]

    Anecdotal, for sure, but those very "populations" seem to me to be much less likely to embrace such things. Muck less likely than a liberal agnostic "population" seemingly owed such "rights" simply because they breathe that is.

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    I agree with the author's general point. He hurt is argument by solely bashing Bush from the Presidential perspective. All Presidents of both parties have embraced taxpayer gifts/grants to charities for some time now.

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