An estimated 3.5 million people experience homelessness in a given year. The number of homeless shelters being constructed has increased since last year and is expected to continue rising. Fortunately, through this dark tunnel of despair lies a glimpse of white light in the form of uncharacteristic cooperation and agreement between most Republicans and Democrats in power over the right course of action. It is agreed that non-profit organizations, churches and charities should be funded or subsidized by the government to promote social programs that combat homelessness and poverty. Nevertheless, even with a bi-partisan status quo, there is and always will be dissenting opinions in politics.

Many liberals claim that granting churches federal tax exemptions is a clear violation of separation of church and state as written in the First Amendment. What they fail to recognize, however, is the reality that churches, while they do promote their own ideals and philosophies, provide many (secular) public works for their local community – examples being an incredible number of soup kitchens and homeless shelters. It is for this reason that President Bush initiated the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives that mandate tax exemption for churches and other non-profit organizations. Believe it or not, President-elect Barack Obama agrees with Bush on this issue and has vowed to further allocate funding to FBCI.

Both Obama and Bush agree that to fight homelessness we must encourage government subsidizing for all organizations including churches that provide services to the homeless. Eliminate those subsidies to churches and you remove one of the strongest assets in the fight against this growing problem. My suggestion to those who believe in ridding churches of tax exemptions would be to look beneath the surface of your issue. You may not agree with the message churches promote, but understand that so many of them provide charities to non-denominational programs in society and as such should be subject to receive subsidies just like any other non-profit organization.