Bush Merges Church & State

Article excerpt

President Bush will leave us with a system of church-state entanglements on an epic scale.

By pouring billions of dollars into religiously affiliated social service providers, he will have accomplished precisely what the nation's Founders warned against: a process by which people of many faiths and none at all are forced through compulsory taxation to underwrite other people's religious activities.

The Freedom from Religion Foundation in Wisconsin took action against the administration's faith-based policies. It and three leaders, as taxpayers, filed a lawsuit alleging that newly created faith-based agencies were using tax dollars to advance and promote religion.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report in 2006 finding that the faith-based recipients of federal grants are not sufficiently policed to ensure that they don't discriminate in their services on the basis of religion. It found that some grantees engage in overtly religious activities, such as praying, while providing government-funded social services.

The lawsuit could have put all the unconstitutional activities of the administration's faith-based agencies under a microscope. But first the litigants had to get past the Bush-packed U.S. Supreme Court -- something they could not do.

Lost in all the attention that other end-of-term cases received, Hein vs. Freedom from Religion Foundation Inc. was as momentous as any. The 5-to-4 ruling, with the majority consisting of the conservatives on the court, including Bush's two appointees, will help insulate Bush's faith-based agenda from legitimate legal challenge. …