music in the park san jose

A group advocating the separation of church and state should
rethink a federal lawsuit filed yesterday intended to strike down
the recently signed law that could bring up to $20 million in
restoration funding to California’s 21 historic missions.
A group advocating the separation of church and state should rethink a federal lawsuit filed yesterday intended to strike down the recently signed law that could bring up to $20 million in restoration funding to California’s 21 historic missions.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the organization bringing suit, very frankly cannot see the forest for the trees when it comes to the importance of protecting these historic landmarks. Though services are still held in the majority of the missions and most are owned by the Catholic Church, the religious significance is equally matched by their historical and educational importance – not to mention the tourism value the missions have for the communities that surround them.

The historic missions are cultural artifacts of the past dating back to before the 1800s. They are treasures we simply cannot let fall by the wayside. Full of rich and meaningful California history, collectively the missions hosted approximately 5.3 million visitors last year including some 745,000 school children. Every fourth grade student in the state studies and visits one of the missions as part of their curriculum. And, they play a vital role in their communities fueling the economic engine through tourism for the towns associated with them like our own San Juan Bautista.

The sad truth is without federal funding the missions will soon crumble to the earth and once they are gone, they are lost forever.

The bill President Bush signed earlier this week does not provide a single penny to the Catholic Church. Instead, it creates a matching grant of up to $10 million through the Dept. of Interior for money raised by the California Mission Foundation – a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization dedicated to their preservation. Likewise, before the bill passed the House and Senate it was amended to say the money cannot be paid until the Justice Department issues a finding that it doesn’t violate the First Amendment. That alone should be enough to satisfy any separation issues.

Obviously, American history has taught the importance of keeping church separate from the affairs of state – the very reason Puritans fled England and a fundamental principal of the U.S. Constitution. There is little room for argument there. However, organizations like the Americans United for Separation of Church and State should focus their efforts on bigger battles causing real harm to the division between government and religion.

Saving the missions is only preserving history and protecting the towns that have come to rely upon them – there shouldn’t be anything controversial about that.

To respond to this editorial or comment on this issue, please send or bring letters to Editor, The Hollister Free Lance, 350 Sixth St., Hollister, Calif. 95023 or e-mail to [email protected].

Previous articleIt’s time to get serious about our children’s physical fitness
Next articleCCS title showdown
A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here