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The continuing, yet blessedly genteel, joust between people of differing faiths serves to illustrate the importance of separating church from state.

In social terms the issue is quite mundane. At a time when local taxpayers should be vitally concerned about continuing pressures to impose unreasonable financial burdens on those who receive no benefit, the possibility that religious institutions might add to those burdens is especially unacceptable.

So far, neither the long-established Bible Church nor the recently-established Chabad seem to have sought public funding for their religious activities, although they doubtless get tax breaks. Nevertheless, on the one hand we have the evidence of the evangelistic Christian Coalition's promotion of the Religious Freedom Act which would, inter alia, funnel taxes to religious institutions. On the other, we have the Hasidic community's continuing battle, supported by the Governor of New York no less, plus other lobbyist prone politicians, to deploy taxpayer funds to finance separatist educational facilities in Kyrias Joel. Both initiatives justify concern about how religion-based political initiatives might impact on our pocket.

One does not need to make judgments about the objectives of the religion-based enterprises to determine that they potentially represent a powerful usurpation of individual choice on how one's hard-earned income is spent.

Alan Jackson

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