John Leland, the famed revolutionary era Baptist evangelist who championed religious freedom, was adament about separation of church and state: he even insisted that the state should not grant ministers and congregations tax breaks.
Leland would be probably be appaled if he were alive today and could see the tax favoritisms granted to ministers and congregations by the U.S. government. Yet the tax favoritism does not come without strings: for instance, in addition to not being taxed on housing, an ordained minister may opt of paying Social Security and Medicare if he or she has moral, ethical or religious objections to participating in socialized medicine and retirement.
While some Baptist ministers do opt out of socialized medicine and retirement (or so I am told), most apparently do not. In fact, when I recently queried some minister friends about their participation in socialized medicine and retirement, several otherwise conservative Baptists defended their own involvement in socialism.
At the same time, some of these very same conservative Baptists insist that socialized medicine, while fine for them, should not be made available to their fellow Americans. This attitude of "socialized medicine is fine for me but allowing my fellow Americans to have it will ruin the country" seems to be the same attitude that is playing out in tea parties and anger-ridden town hall health care meetings: a lot of (primarily) senior citizens (and all white, I might add) on socialized medicine are ticked off that Americans at large may be allowed to also receive socialized medicine.
What does it say for Baptists (and other clergy) and senior citizens (and conservatives at that) who refuse to give up their socialized medicine, to insist that their fellow Americans not be allowed into their socialist club? Perhaps this is just a little snapshot of how America has become a nation of selfish individuals (including religious folk) who are only concerned with their own interests and who have little to no compassion for their fellow Americans. I'd like to think this is not the case, but I'm not so sure anymore.