In a recent social gathering of atheists, there was discussion of the non-theistic things that churches provide for those who choose to associate with them. In the USA, the portfolio of "services" provided through churches continues to expand to include day care, preschool, primary school, women's social groups, programs for seniors, etc. etc. The discussion also included remarks about the President's recent executive order allow more mixing of taxpayer money, community services offered by churches, and religious discrimination. There was some discussion of the need for social support programs for disadvantaged people and about what kind of organization should provide them.
An elderly, active humanist woman in the group commented: "if we paid enough taxes, we would not need churches".
This has been stuck in my brain for a few weeks now. It leads me to ask some questions:
Do the majority of atheists hold to the idea that all social support and services should be offered by the government? That is to say, if there is any kind of need in the population, a government agency needs to be identified and assigned to meet that need.
Where does this philosophy originate?
What makes directors and employees of a government agency immune from discriminatory practices, inefficiency, lack of resources, incompetence, and cronyism that in effect make the agency useless to the population it is meant to serve?
How does a society ensure that the people employed by government agencies addressing social needs actually care about the people they are employed to serve?
If a government is expected to meet all the social needs of its citizens, does that make the government liable for outcomes that were theoretically preventable?