My first point is to state that during this discussion I have been polite to all participants and have not made use of commentary that ridicules or belittles my opponents’ arguments. I have made every effort to remain polite and considerate to all parties. I would ask for the same in return vtboy and warn you that asking if my argument is serious certainly borders on disrespectful. I do not believe that I have ever given any indication that my arguments are not thought out and reasonable in purpose and at least supported enough to substantiate an actual argument. If you choose to make this debate something personal or engage in belittling tactics then I will simply call an end to my participation. I ask only for the same courtesy I have shown and ask only for the respect I am willing to give.
My second point is that the case of Lemon v Kurtzman was not judged based on neutrality or religious intent, but rather entanglement of the government with a religious institution. Chief Justice Burger notes on several occasions within the brief that the law being considered makes allowances for government oversight and intervention in the disbursement of the funds to the parochial schools. This oversight is meant to ensure that the funds are appropriated for secular teaching (including teacher salaries, textbooks and materials). Chief Justice Burger points toward the religious markings, activities and purpose of a parochial school as evidence that such intervention would be required to ensure proper distribution of funds. That the government would then have to take action to oversee and be witness to private church documents. Please note the actual reason and law he used to uphold this decision.
“Held: Both statutes are unconstitutional under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment, as the cumulative impact of the entire relationship arising under the statutes involves excessive entanglement between government and religion.” Pp. 403 U. S. 611-625.
Chief Justice Burger further go on to elaborate on criterion used in the past by the Supreme Court in regard to public funds used in regard to religious institutions. This also invalidates your final statement of religious institutions having no access to secular tax dollars.
“Every analysis in this area must begin with consideration of the cumulative criteria developed by the Court over many years. Three such tests may be gleaned from our cases. First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion, Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U. S. 236, 392 U. S. 243 (1968);
Page 403 U. S. 613
finally, the statute must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion." Walz, supra, at 397 U. S. 674.
The problem with this particular legislation as Chief Justice Burger points out is the final point.
Circuit Court Judge Sutton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit handled a case similar to the one we are currently discussing where city and state funds were used to help rebuild works owned and operated by religious institutions. As part of a program to reinvigorate the neighborhoods around several new public works, grants were being distributed to property owners and businesses to assist in their rebuilding and maintenance. Nine of those grants went toward areas owned and operated by religious organizations.
““Everyone agrees that the program allocates benefits to a broad spectrum of entities on a neutral basis, as the City awards grants without regard to the religious, non-religious or a religious nature of the entity. The facial neutrality of the program, everyone also agrees,
does not mask an intent to advance religion: Detroit sought to fix up its downtown, not to
establish a religion. And as will generally be the case when a governmental program
allocates generally available benefits on a neutral basis and without a hidden agenda, this
program does not have the impermissible effect of advancing religion in general or any one
faith in particular. By endorsing all qualifying applicants, the program has endorsed none
of them, and accordingly it has not run afoul of the federal or state religion clauses.”
Circuit Court Judge Sutton also makes a point of noting various other state funded protection and programs offered to religious institutions.
“A comparison to other permitted benefits proves the point. A city may extend sewers
and sidewalks to churches, synagogues and mosques. See Everson, 330 U.S. at 17–18. It
may provide police and fire-protection services to them. See id. And it may extend
property-tax exemptions for charitable organizations to them. See Walz, 397 U.S. at 680.
All of these generally available benefits facilitate the operation of the religious institution,
either by saving them money directly or by sparing them the expense of providing the
services on their own, and in the process they make it more likely that newcomers will attend
their religious services. Yet the Court has long approved the extension of these general
government benefits to religious entities. The same is true of school-bus services, books and
school technology offered to religious schools, even though the assistance facilitates the
religious and secular missions of the recipients. See Everson, 330 U.S. at 17–18; Allen, 392
U.S. at 238, 244–48; Mitchell, 530 U.S. at 809–14 (plurality opinion); id. at 836–37(O’Connor, J., concurring in the judgment). If a city may save the exterior of a church from
a fire, it is hard to understand why it cannot help that same church with peeling paint or tuckpointing—at least when it provides the same benefit to all downtown buildings on the same
Please make note that the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel has previously stated ““a FEMA disaster grant is analogous to the sort of aid that qualifies as ‘general government services’ approved by the [Supreme] Court”
This shows that there is certainly legal precedent and instances allowed by the law where tax dollars are used to not only rebuild and repair religious structures, but also to enhance the services offered by religious institutions.http://www.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/09a0188p-06.pdfhttp://www.justice.gov/olc/FEMAAssistance.htm
(Please excuse the poor formatting, I got tired of fighting with the text.)