Dear Editor: : In the Sept. 21 edition of The News, a letter by Council Member John Howard rambles on about the city of Covington's furnishing a building to be used as a homeless shelter for the Rev. Clara Lett. The funds being used will come from the sale of Covington Cable. Howard stated that the Constitution had been violated by the city council's vote of Sept. 17.
At the beginning of his meeting, Mayor Sam Ramsey stated that in the past a great number of people had called him inquiring as to how they were going to pay their utility fills. I can only assume he was talking about the payment of bills owed to the city of Covington. Ramsey then praised Bob Furnad, saying he had taken care of the city government's overdue utility bill problems.
FaithWorks is presumably a 501c(3) charitable organization and appears to be backed by the mayor of Covington, a representative of the government. Do they direct a large portion of their donations into the city coffers?
I find it strange that Howard finds it acceptable for a charitable organization to put money in the city treasury but does not find it acceptable for the city to spend money indirectly to aid a homeless shelter. Does separation of church and state only apply when the wrong party receives the money?
Many mega-churches in Covington are private 501c(6) organizations and members of the Chamber of Commerce. Christian churches claim to be autonomous with each member having responsibility for the unit. When churches join the private organization, are all club meetings, galas, party activities and dances open to all church members? Surely more than the preacher and choir director are authorized to participate in chamber perks.
Also ,at the council meeting, Howard and Councilman Roger Tingler made much ado about a multi-million dollar liability owed by the citizens of Covington to E.A.G. for electricity. Why doesn't the city just sell its electric service to Snapping Shoals E.M.C. or Georgia Power and eliminate the debt and get out of the utility business?
In the past, during city election campaigns, many of us have received telephone calls on a Sunday afternoon wanting us to help elect a certain candidate. Our telephone caller screens would show these calls originated from the Covington First United Methodist Church. Is that separation of church and state?
With under 50 percent of Americans now claiming a church affiliation, the concept of separation of church and state will die a natural death in our children's lifetime.
Situations like those mentioned above turn people off from organized religion and hasten the departure of charitable deductions and the separation of church and state.
Editor's note: FaithWorks is a nonprofit organization supported by donations from 29 local churches. FaithWorks provides emergency financial assistance to households who need help paying their rent and utilities and should not be viewed as a permanent solution for residents. Households are only eligible to receive financial assistance from FaithWorks once a year.