It's always struck me as foolish when Christian organizations embraced government's entrance into some aspect of civic life. Ross Douthat put it well earlier this year:
When government expands, it’s often at the expense of alternative expressions of community, alternative groups that seek to serve the common good. Unlike most communal organizations, the government has coercive power — the power to regulate, to mandate and to tax. These advantages make it all too easy for the state to gradually crowd out its rivals. The more things we “do together” as a government, in many cases, the fewer things we’re allowed to do together in other spheres.
That's why I'm not surprised that city governments, notably NYC Soda Czar Michael Bloomberg, are cracking down on people feeding the homeless. At Reason, Baylen Linnekin reports:
Starting in about 2006, several cities began arresting, fining, and otherwise oppressing private individuals and nonprofits that feed the homeless and less fortunate....
In New York City, for example, Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned food donations to the homeless earlier this year "because the city can’t assess their salt, fat and fiber content."
As government grows, it directly and indirectly crowds out voluntarily charity. My column today treats this theme, but in the light of the homeless-feeding-ban story, I wanted to provide the full comment Ashley McGuire of the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty gave me at Friday's rally for religious freedom:
The Catholic Church is the number-one non-governmental provider of health-care, education, and charitable services to the poor. That inevitably led to a conflict. The Church is the government's biggest rival.
And government needs to crush or subjugate its rivals.