Principles for Church Institutions to Consider When Evaluating the Acceptability of State Financial Aid
In dealing with the practical question of when it is appropriate for church schools or institutions in the faith community to accept support or funding from the government, the following principles should be considered:
1. Would accepting the aid establish a precedent that would undercut the religious freedom protections guaranteed by the First Amendment, and the broad principle it embraces – the separation of church and state?2. Does the aid come attached with conditions or requirements that would inhibit or interfere with the religious mission or goals of the institution, such as the restriction of its religious activities or standards?3. Is there a reasonable likelihood that the aid would create a dependency by the religious institution on the government benefit program — so much so that it would inhibit its future ability to act independently?
In conclusion, the Northwest Religious Liberty Association, and its board of directors offer these principles in the form of questions so that meaningful dialogue can occur at all levels of the faith community. In the spirit of helpfulness, we believe that these three questions can substantially safeguard the faith community and its institutions from undue compromise and hardship in the future, and thus protect the vitality of its prophetic mission in America.
Northwest Religious Liberty Association
Government Relations Board
Approved and Enacted: March 8, 2000