Churches can have flaws too

Published: Monday, January 16, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 15, 2006 at 11:08 p.m.
I take issue with Dave Hill's (Jan. 9) statement that it would be "ideal . . . for the churches to take on the important task for government of looking out for the needs (orderly behavior) of the citizenry." Secular institutions that provide for the citizenry are not by any means perfect, but church-based institutions are equally vulnerable to flaws and failures.
On several occasions, church-run facilities that claimed to care for children have actually abused them and cited religious freedom as a justification. In 2003, Anthony Ray Hemphill, a pastor in Milwaukee, Wis., suffocated an 8-year-old boy to death in an effort to "exorcise" him of autism. When charged with child abuse, Hemphill defended his actions as religious practice.
Other church-run facilities, such as a religious "boot camp" in Scottsdale, Ariz., have maintained policies of violent corporal punishment. When the state closed the camp in 2004, its founder sued on the grounds that they had violated his religious freedom.
Some church organizations have claimed that the separation of church and state exempts them from routine state regulations, such as fire safety codes and background checks for day-care employees.
While I do not suggest that the majority of church organizations are incapable of safely providing for certain needs of the citizenry, these examples should give pause to anyone who assumes that religious institutions are inherently more qualified than secular ones.
Will Greer, Gainesville

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