As if it wasn’t involved in people’s private lives enough, the federal government wants to regulate baptisms, requiring a special-use permit for ceremonies in public waters.
The policy was recently enforced by the National Park Service, which — spontaneity be damned — requires a 48-hour advance notice of baptisms, according to Todd Starnes at Fox News.
“If the Holy Spirit is working on Sunday morning, you’re going to baptize Sunday afternoon,” Dennis Purcell told The Salem News, according to Starnes. “You may not know ahead of time.”
But while the government cracks down on public expressions of the Christian faith, it seems to embrace public expressions of the Islamic faith – and often at taxpayer expense, like these instances cited by Starnes:
Universities across the nation are spending thousands of dollars to install foot baths so Muslim students can wash their feet before their five-times-a-day prayers.
The New York Times reported that the University of Michigan-Dearborn spent $25,000 to install the foot-washing stations in restrooms. The university defended the expenditure, claiming it was for health and safety measures, not religion.
A number of airports have spent public tax dollars to provide foot-washing basins for Muslim taxi drivers. One Arizona airport went so far as to provide prayer rugs.
U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., sent an Aug. 21 letter to the Park Service demanding answers, saying:
“I am very troubled by any federal rule that requires churches to apply for a permit for the purpose of baptism, especially when these traditional activities have been done in the rivers and streams of this nation since its founding.
“One would hope that the answer is not ‘because the National Park Service wants to limit the number of baptisms performed on the river.”
Public outrage caused the Park Service to backtrack on its stance.
“As of today, the park’s policy has been clarified to state that no permit will be required for baptisms within the riverways,” Superintendent William Black wrote to the congressman. “I can assure you the National Park Service has no intention of limiting the number of baptisms performed within the park.”
Starnes said he was reminded of this John Adams quote: “Nothing is more dreaded than the national government meddling with religion.”
Read Starnes’ entire report here.