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Consider public education. States and localities could collect tax dollars as usual and then offer school vouchers that parents could use to supply education to their children at whatever religious or secular school they choose. If states want to subsidize college students, they could again offer vouchers that students could use at whatever college or university to pay for their education.
Health insurance? The tax code could be reformed so that employers simply pay their employees the monies spent on health insurance policies and individuals would purchase whatever available private health insurance best fits their needs, including policies that cover contraception, abortion, sterilization, and stem cell treatments, etc. The poor could be provided with tax-financed vouchers to buy whatever private insurance they preferred.
Most public welfare services, say, job training, nutrition support, drug treatment, could also be converted into vouchers that recipients could redeem at whatever social welfare agency they think would work best for them. (To be honest, I am not clever enough to think of how to use some kind of voucher system to avoid church/state conflicts in the case of adoptions and foster care. Whatever is done should be done with the best interests of the children in mind.)
Santorum may believe that breaching the famous wall of separation between church and state erected by the First Amendment is a good idea, but he is very wrong. Religious groups have always been welcome to make their cases in the public square, but if churches want to be left alone, they should stop begging alms of the government. It’s time to reverse the trend toward more church/state conflicts by protecting religious organizations from increasing financial dependence on government. Santorum should heed the admonition of an earlier Republican president, Ronald Reagan, who in 1984 declared, "We establish no religion in this country, we command no worship, we mandate no belief, nor will we ever. Church and state are, and must remain, separate.”
Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.