Witte Quoted in NY Times Series on Church-State SeparationBy: April L. Bogle
Special breaks to religious institutions amount to "a sort of religious affirmative action program" says John Witte, Jr., in The New York Times October 8, 2006. The article is the first of a four-part series examining "how American religious organizations benefit from an increasingly accommodating government."
Witte addresses religious-based tax breaks in the fourth and final article, October 11, 2006. "What's happening with all of these tax breaks and exceptions is a soft, subconstitutional establishment of religion returning to the country..." which "...breeds a level of dependency that I think is dangerous for both religion and government."
Witte, Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, served as a major source for the series. He is an expert on First Amendment law and has published numerous books and articles on the subject, including Religion and the American Constitution Experiement, second edition.
Diana B. Henriques, a New York Times reporter since 1989, is well known for her articles in 2004 and 2005 that, according to the Times, "exposed the deceptive practices used to sell unsuitable insurance, mutual funds and other financial products to young military personnel; those stories prompted investigations that ultimately led to cash refunds for thousands of service members and changes in federal law and state and Pentagon regulations governing the sale of insurance and other financial products to military consumers."
The second article in the series (October 9, 2006) focuses on laws that shield religious employers of all faiths from most employee lawsuits.
The third article (October 10, 2006) explores the issues surrounding tax breaks given to religious institutions and their charitable activites.
The fourth article (October 11, 2006) has two sections: one outlines the bills pending before Congress that will provide special benefits and exemptions to religious organizations; the second examines tax breaks for clergy housing and religious publications.
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