For the past weeks I have listened to and read stories of that confirm this phenomenon. Mid-December I read and heard of the fact that Canadian Catholic-owned schools are being told that in order to get state funding, they must implement 'gay-straight clubs' at school as an anti-bullying measure (Click to see 1 such article on the matter - Desmond 2011). This week I learned that Catholic owned hospitals will lose state owned funding if their health care does not cover contraceptives, abortion or abortion referrals. Catholic owned orphanages are also being told that they will lose funding if they discriminate against parents who seek to adopt children based on sexual orientation. (Click to see 1 such article by Goodstein 2011). However, I find it strange how we got to this in the first place. When is it that the church needed to depend on state funding to take care of the fatherless and the infirm and to disciple the young?
Perhaps these situations are not as extreme as in China, where the state regulates religion (see this link for China's state regulations of religion - State Council of the People's Republic of China 2004). One YouTube video I watched at a church service on the Chinese state-owned church, declared that the church's Bible, sermons and hymns are edited (although I question the truth of this, as I cannot find official evidence - see article by Galli 2004 ). However I wonder how long before the North American democratic states get to the place of telling churches what passages of scriptures can or cannot be read aloud during services, what topics pastors cannot preach and what songs the congregation cannot sing. Then to the state of barring pastors as marriage officers for not marrying gay couples. Today, we are seeing a reversal of the separation of church from state (See article on 'The faith (and doubts) of our fathers'). I predict that democratic states will soon like the Chinese state, develop regulations for religion, and persecute all non-conformists as law breakers. Then, not I, but the word of God already prophesies this (See Matthew 24:9 for one such prophecy). As is was with the early beginnings of Christianity, so shall it be towards the end.
Galli, Mark. (2004, November 1). The Chinese church's delicate dance: A conversation with the head of the Protestant Three-Self Patriotic Movement. Christianity Today
GOODSTEIN, LAURIE. (2011, December 28). Bishops say rules on gay parents limit freedom of religion. originally appeared in The New York Times. MSNBC.com. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/45808954/ns/us_news-the_new_york_times/t/bishops-say-rules-gay-parents-limit-freedom-religion/#.Tv7IztQ9m6q
State Council of the People's Republic of China (2004, November 30). Religious Affairs Regulations (№ 426). Passed on July 7, 2004 at the 57th session of the State Council. Took effect on March 1, 2005. Signed by Premier Wen Jiabao in November 30, 2004. English Translation by Peter Erickson. http://www.orthodox.cn/contemporary/zjshwtli_en.htm
The faith (and doubts) of our fathers: What did the makers of America believe about God and religion? The subject is stirring the very rancour they wanted to avoid. (2011, Dec 17). The Economist. http://www.economist.com/node/21541718
I also learned that here in Canada from the pastor of the fellowship I attend that churches have to be trained in the disabilities act so as to accommodate persons with disabilities attending their congregations. I also learned that if churches have any meal programmes where food is consumed by the public, that they must have trained persons with food handlers permits to oversee the operations. I will conduct the research to locate those official requirements though to ensure the truth of the matter.