Running for the Prize: Religion or Relationship. Get RSS Feed · Return to Speaker: Ruffin Alphin. Type: Sermon. Related Documents. Sermon Questions. You may think you merely answered a plea for help, or just knew it was your turn through prayerful discernment; from the challenge of a sermon; by identifying Story after story in the Bible tells us that God wants to be in relationship with . parents who taught you the faith, Sunday school teachers who helped you grow. The relationship between state and religion has various dimensions. financed social services, public education, and so on.9 Religious expression in .. If preaching or teaching switches to coercion or incitement to criminal.
The same holds true for the preaching of a rigid and archaic morality. There is no reason, however, for government intervention. Fundamental freedoms do exist for strongly dissenting convictions. For example, the opinion that heretics and apostates, after they are dead, will burn in hell, is a rather common fundamentalist starting point and does not amount to advocacy of lawless action.
If preaching or teaching switches to coercion or incitement to criminal acts, of course, grounds for government intervention exist. Up till now, in particular, government restrictions have been discussed. Governmental restraint in criminalizing dissenting opinions, however, leaves open the possibility that government itself defends and propagates liberal values. State aid for religious communities Another aspect of government involvement with churches and religious communities might be in backing them financially.
In a lot of countries, there exist various forms of government aid to religious communities. In France, the government is the owner of many church buildings and puts these buildings at the disposal of religious communities. Normal tax law sanctions apply. This church tax is an 8 percent surcharge above the tax on wages. This regulation results in the national religious communities in Germany being among the richest religious communities in Europe.
This regulation pertains to only the recognized denominations. The main criteria for recognition is whether a denomination supplies a need for a segment of the population. By now, also imams receive a state salary.
Religious communities in England, including the established Church of England, do not receive direct state subsidies, nor do the religious communities in the United States.
Jefferson was among the opponents. In other countries, the supposed utility of religion is a point for attention as well. A counterargument could be that a lot of citizens do not really show a spiritual or religious need. Attributing such a need to every citizen is based on a unproven portrayal of mankind. An additional, tricky question is whether government should be allowed to control—as in the health service—the quality of the spiritual and religious services.
In this respect, arguments against state aid are advanced as well. First, a citizen should not be forced to pay taxes for backing the preaching of convictions contrary to his own deeply felt convictions. This argument carries a certain weight in the U. The European Commission of Human Rights, for example, judged the support of religious communities with general public resources not contrary to freedom of religion, as laid down in article 9 ECHR.
In this respect, churches cannot be compared, for example, with museums or sports associations, which are often receive state aid. A government call to play sports more regularly, or to visit museums is not very controversial; a government call to visit churches or mosques more regularly, would be a horse of a different color.
One might put forward that only religious communities that feel very strongly about democratic values and the rule of law deserve state aid. Such an appraisal of religious doctrine, however, is neither possible nor desirable. In this respect, one may point to former local Dutch government plans to bring more liberal forms of Islam into action to minimize radicalization.
Such a policy might actually damage the credibility of more liberal religious communities. Therefore, in most countries governments take care, for example, to supply the spiritual needs in the military.
State, religion and the forming of political opinion In the United States, political candidates often use or have to use religious references to attract voters; in other countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands, this is less obvious, even though, at the same time, political parties with religious backgrounds do exist. In this section, we will deal with several interrelated issues. First, the meaning and relevance of religious arguments in political debate; second, the question of whether a democracy under the rule of law should limit religiously inspired political ambitions.
The answer to the question as to whether religiously inspired political parties have a special position follows naturally from this argument. Religiously inspired political arguments 58 It would be strange if diversity in a religiously pluralistic society would not show itself in the process of political opinion formation. Believers are religiously motivated, which does not always change when they enter the political arena. Moreover, religious communities may have special interests that they want to have represented in political debate.
In a democracy, political rights like freedom of speech and association guarantee that everybody is entitled to participate in political discussions. In view of these fundamental rights, religiously inspired contributions have the same status as other contributions. From this point of view, religious arguments in the political debate might be considered less relevant.
Religious points of view may enrich discussions with arguments that otherwise would be without a voice. Such an idea casts doubt on all political movements wishing to build a perfect society. Another possibility could be that religiously inspired participants in the political debate translate their views and arguments into arguments with which anybody—believer or nonbeliever—might agree.
Years ago, the main argument of a Dutch Reformed political party against the liberalization of pornography laws was that pornography should be considered a gross offense against God.
The assumption that religious arguments need some sort of translation is also important because compromises play a rather important part in democratic political opinion formation and decision making.
A religious argument that is tantamount to an appeal to the inalterable will of the supreme being probably prevents concluding political compromises. Limits to political opinion formation Up till now, the argument in this section has focused mainly on the desirability of a well-functioning political debate. So far, the need for juridical norms limiting political rights has not been discussed.
The situation might be different if religiously inspired political movements strive to establish a theocratic political system, wish to abolish equality between men and women, or want to classify nonbelievers as second-rate citizens. Political freedoms are indivisible in the sense that they protect views and aspirations completely contrary to the starting points of a democracy under the rule of law.
As long as political opinions are not considered incitement to imminent lawlessness, they are protected, no matter if they are, for example, of a racist or dictatorial nature.
In other countries, a more substantive concept of democracy prevails. As a result, the Constitution presents a framework for acceptable political opinion formation.
The Dutch Constitution does not explicitly lay down such a substantive framework; no abuse-of-fundamental-rights provision is included. Nevertheless, it is still possible that unwritten supraconstitutional starting points exist.
Nevertheless, the position of religiously inspired political parties is clear enough. These parties have, in principle, the same position as other political parties. Political parties which are convicted for discrimination may lose their state subsidies. State, religion, and social services State and religion meet in society in the social and cultural domain.
Of old, churches and religious communities have been involved in physical and mental health care and have supported the poor. Religious organizations in these fields were and still are assisted by a relatively large number of volunteers.
First, the above-mentioned services have been professionalized. As a result, the link with religion has become weaker, and the room for voluntary work has diminished. Second, the state has claimed a greater role for itself. So the question arises, what might be the role of private organizations with a religious background and, more particularly, whether and under what conditions government may or should subsidize such organizations?
Looking at different countries, a varied picture may be seen. In France, after the Revolution, the health care system was secularized, while, at the same time, illnesses were treated on a more medical-scientific basis.
The present strong stress on laicism does not mean, however, that organizations such as the Catholic Juvenile Assistance Organization are excluded from financial support by the government. Policy considerations of a financial nature, for example, could point in another direction. On the other, organizations with a religious background, active in the child welfare, for example, or care for the elderly, do receive state support.
Second, the primary effect of the funding measure may not advance or obstruct religion. And third, the measure should not lead to an excessive entanglement between state and religion.
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People might prefer the social, cultural, or health services offered by such organizations. Still, it must be stressed that those organizations are supported because and only insofar as they meet professional standards and, therefore, their activities can be considered to be in the public interest.
That implies that government may and should lay down quality requirements. These requirements, however, do not regard the religious background of these organizations but their professional activities.How Do You Know Someone Is "The One"? -- Jefferson Bethke
State, religion, and education For ages, churches and religious organizations have played a central role in the field of education. In the nineteenth century, however, in a lot of Western countries a system of public education was developed with, originally, some kind of Christian character. Lessons in religion, the substance of which is decided by the churches, are a normal part of the curriculum in a lot of public schools.
Pupils, however, may obtain an exemption. In France, primary and secondary schools in the public education sector are obliged to ban all religious influences. That is thought to be the only way a child is able to develop into a free citizen of the French Republic. In this approach, subsidies for private schools with a religious background are not really acceptable.
Some stricter Protestant groups found this form of public education neither flesh nor fowl; Catholics were not satisfied, either. So these denominations started their own schools. Inreligious parties had achieved such influence in parliament they managed to insert a provision in the Constitution to the effect that private schools have a right to state funding on an equal level with schools in the public education sector. That is the main reason why in the Netherlands the private education sector has an enormous size.
Nowadays, however, only in a small percentage of these private schools, religion plays an all-important role. As far as public education is concerned, teaching of Christian morals as such has disappeared, to be replaced by a certain openness to different religions and philosophies of life. Various interests Churches and religious parents consider education at school one of the means of conveying to children valuable religious ideas.
It, too, wants to convey certain common values to all future citizens. The first question is: Should the government support private schools with religious backgrounds and, if so, under what conditions?
To what extent should there be room for religious expression in the public education sector? State subsidies to private schools Given the great national differences in Europe, it is self-evident that freedom of education, laid down in article 2 of the First Protocol of the ECHR, does not oblige states to support private schools. State support leads to diversity in the supply of education.
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Citizens take responsibility in governing these schools. These advantages are similar to those in the social service sector. Again, the starting point is that the government will back private schools because and only so far as the education meets quality standards and the teachers are professionals. That implies that disciplines have to be taught thoroughly. Pupils must learn about evolution theory. Therefore, some knowledge of the presuppositions thereof, such as freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and equality between citizens, is mandatory.
These presuppositions are rather neutral and do not push forward any particular portrayal of mankind.
Running for the Prize: Religion or Relationship
If the religious background of a school prevents fulfillment of these conditions, state support should be out of the question. In other words, one may expect from private schools a certain openness to democracy under the rule of law. A counterargument might be that these conditions aim too high, given the social and cultural background of some pupils. The argument, however, is not convincing if it is meant that a lot of pupils have a background where democratic values are missing altogether.
That would be all the more reason to pay attention to these values at school. On the other hand, support for private schools under certain conditions may also lead to understanding democratic values, both through the curriculum itself as well as by the fact that government supports diversity, and citizens and government together are responsible for education.
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In the Netherlands, there is no proof that schools with an Islamic background, as such, cannot prepare pupils for citizenship or that they contribute to the radicalization of Islamic youngsters.
Religion in the public education sector A different question concerns the position of religion in the public education system. The issue of wearing head scarves has received a lot of attention. At schools, attention must be paid to freedom of religion and to the diversity of religious denominations and philosophies of life.
It is self-evident that teachers may not propagate or attack certain religions. In Germany, the Constitutional Court judged the regulation in Bavaria, which made it mandatory for schools to install a crucifix, contrary to freedom of religion.
If a teacher wears a religious symbol, we have a different situation. A teacher may appeal to the right of freedom of religion. Under French law that right carries no real weight for civil servants at work. As has been pointed out, no civil servant is allowed to wear religious symbols. In other countries, such as Germany, freedom of religion carries some more weight for teachers at state schools. The fact that teachers at private schools have similar authority shows this in perfect clarity.
Still, the relationship between a teacher and a pupil is longer lasting than the relationship between, for example, a police officer and a citizen. Yet a comment must be made. Only Christ does that. It turns out… a great deal!
Rest fosters faith and trust in God, and it also is a way to keep idolatry at bay. Rest fights Idolatry Exodus If we go, we are called into a famine of the instantaneous, into a famine of all the devices that cry out for our devotion, and it is hard! Every week we choose which famine we want. A siege policy brought about horrors for people inside the city gates. So often we initiate a siege on our own souls, we starve ourselves, and the results are horrible. We do this as we live in a time when access to churches and the Word are as prevalent as ever.
We have the family we are born into, the family we create through marriage, the family that we choose — which is comprised of people we have chosen to invite into our lives. The Bible is full of all kinds of examples of family — some great, and some downright horrible! This will have implications for ALL of our important relationships — with our spouse, with our friends, with our children and parents, and with our church.
David and Jonathan 1 Samuel It takes time, effort, choice, and sacrifice to truly form deep, meaningful, and lasting bonds.