Houses taken over: Letting the government get its nose under the church tent

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Andrée Seu Peterson of World Magazine warns about the government’s calculated intrusion in our churches. Some states require a criminal backround check for child care volunteers.  Peterson laments, “If the local church cannot be trusted to know its people well enough to decide who is fit for nursery duty, there is nothing much to say.”

Andrée writes:

Camel's nose

Wikipedia explains the writer’s concern with the government poking its nose in the church’s business: The camel’s nose is a metaphor for a situation where the permitting of a small, seemingly innocuous act will open the door for larger, clearly undesirable actions.

This year a dozen women in our local church taught ESL to non-native English speakers in the community and offered child care during class time. It was fun. At the debriefing in May our director discussed workbooks, summer follow-up opportunities—and mentioned in passing that child care will not be offered next semester.

The child care decision was explained as being due to a new state law requiring that all church personnel involved with children must receive official criminal background clearance. The far-seeing ESL director realized the implications and judged that it would be prudent to scrap the baby-sitting: Fewer people would be willing to take the extra step of filling out the necessary forms. The resulting smaller pool of workers would mean that our ESL cadre would be in competition with the Women’s Bible Study ministry and the Sunday nursery ministry for manpower.

Not an eyelash batted, save for one of the younger women who chirped that it might be fun to be fingerprinted.

My thoughts went to a scene from Doctor Zhivago, where the medical doctor walks through the front door of his once opulent Moscow house for the first time after serving on the front. Scruffy squatters eye him contemptuously from every corner as his wife Tanya gingerly introduces him to the humorless chief operatives: “This is Comrade Yelkin, our local delegate. He lives here.” “Oh, how do you do?… Welcome,” Zhivago says pleasantly. “’Tis not for you to welcome us, comrade,” interjects another, whom Tanya informs him is the chairman of the residence committee.

As Zhivago and Tanya ascend the stairs to the one room left to them as living quarters, Comrade Kaprugina cannot resist a final jab: “There was living space for 13 families in this one house,” she sneers. “Yes,” says the soft-spoken Zhivago, “yes, this is a better arrangement, comrades. More just.”  Continue reading

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