May 16, 2001
The Executive Board of the Mainstream organization has authorized use of our phone number 1-800-676-3541 as a hotline to monitor government funding of religion for social services in Oklahoma.
The hotline will provide information and referral to those faith groups, social service organizations, and persons who feel that the government’s faith based social services are being provided in a discriminatory or unconstitutional manner.
The Board established the hotline after members expressed concern that the government’s Faith Based Initiatives could be administered in such a way that the state would be 1) endorsing covenant marriage counseling that teaches male supremacy and requires wives to submit to their husbands 2) funding religious expression 3) making religion dependent on tax dollars 4) exposing ministries to intrusive regulations 5) creating conflict and competition between religions for government funding 6) establishing special privileges for a majoritarian faith 7) disenfranchising persons of minority faith, and 8) undermining religion’s role as prophetic critic of government policies and procedures.
Mainstream members noted that at our nation’s founding Baptists were instrumental in securing religious liberty for all people. Having been severely persecuted by established colonial churches prior to the revolutionary war, Baptists refused to ratify the U.S. Constitution until the first amendment was added to secure and preserve the rights of religious minorities and dissenters.
Mainstream Baptists are not opposed to taxpayer funding of services provided by agencies that are not “pervasively religious.” Faith groups and organizations interested in learning how to do this correctly should call us for a free of copy of the booklet “Keeping the Faith — The Promise of Cooperation, The Perils of Government Funding: A Guide for Houses of Worship” produced by the Baptist Joint Committee and the Interfaith Alliance.
Mainstream Baptists believe religious social ministries that are supported entirely by voluntary contributions — like Good Shepherd Ministries at First Baptist Church in OK City — best demonstrate our Christian compassion for the poor while preserving the integrity of Christian witness and the credibility of the gospel.
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