When Mark Elengold retired as a top government drug regulator in 2005, he received $18,733 in his final paycheck, on top of his normal salary. The money was not a bonus, overtime pay or compensation for unused vacation hours. Rather, it was for time he had reserved to go to synagogue but had not actually used for that purpose during his three-decade career.
In bureaucratic parlance, Elengold’s payment was for “religious compensation time,” a little-known benefit created by a 1978 law that allows civilian federal employees to work small amounts of overtime, bank those hours and use them to take time off for religious observances without spending their vacation leave.
Early in the Bush administration, the Navy determined that three civilian managers in Rhode Island had accrued hundreds of hours of religious leave and used the time to play golf, gamble, run marathons and travel to Europe. They banked their regular vacation leave so that they would be eligible for large cash payouts upon retirement.
Asked whether he considered a golf tournament to be a religious observance, one of the workers told Navy investigators: “They could be for some people.”
Read about it here.
Why is the government in the religious business in the first place. People should worship on their own time. I don’t want my tax dollars going to pay for anyone’s faith. That is between them and the god they serve. This reminds me of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes when I was in high school. There were guys on my football team that got their pictures taken for the yearbook in the FCA page just so they could get out of class.
The government (our tax dollars) should not be in the religion business.
What do you think?