New Rule Excludes Religious Workers from Benefits Offered to Others. Another Example of Hostile Secularism in the Federal Government
As the recent battle for a proper understanding of religious liberty shows, our culture and many of our government leaders and organizations are becoming increasingly secularized and hostile to religion and religious practice.
Yet another example of this is a recent rule change in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF). According to this program, a person who has been engaged in Public Service employment for ten years, can have the remainder of their Student Loan form the government forgiven, presuming they have faithfully been paying it up till then.
However, a recent rule change now excludes those who are involved in any work of a religious nature. In the Washington Post “On Faith” section Brad Hirschfield writes the following to explain the change:
What counts as public service?
Until the end of January, the government definition was clear and inclusive. It read as follows: “Qualifying employment is any employment with a federal, state, or local government agency, entity, or organization or a non-profit organization that has been designated as tax-exempt by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).
Now though, the rules have changed. At the end of the description of who qualifies for this program, a new paragraph appears and it’s striking not only in that it re-defines things, but that it does so in a way that seems purposefully disingenuous.
“Generally, the type or nature of employment with the organization does not matter for PSLF purposes. However, if you work for a non-profit organization, your employment will not qualify for PSLF if your job duties are related to religious instruction, worship services, or any form of proselytizing.” 
Thus, the new policy explicitly goes out of its way to exclude religious work. In effect it implies that such work is NOT public service, merely because it is exercised through a religious organization for a religious purpose.
Consider that the PSLF program exists because work for a tax exempt organization is generally considered to be of special value to the community. Many tax exempt organizations (like the Church), and those who work them provide care for the poor, special outreach to immigrants, pro-bono or lower cost legal assistance, and the like. The Church, in particular, runs shelters, soup kitchens, schools, hospitals, dental clinics, and so forth.
And, further, there was a traditional appreciation for the fact that religious instruction, and the care of souls, was something that benefited the entire community, since such care helps to instill personal stability, generosity, commitment, respect for law, strong families and other civic values.
In recognition of the value of such work, and in order to encourage others to undertake it, programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness are offered, and churches, non-profits and other 401-C3 organizations have been granted tax exempt status.
Again, note the reason, they are tax-exempt and receive certain other benefits in recognition of the fact that they provide a valuable service to the the community.
The new wording of the law says, in effect, that offering religious benefits and services, the care of the soul, is no longer to be considered worthy of the benefit, that is, such work is no longer to be considered valuable enough that such workers will qualify.
Endless arguments will likely ensue as to the Church/State debate. But note that this is a CHANGE in the law. Those involved in religious work have always been included until now. Mr Hirschfield in his article asks,
Are clergy and teachers of religious faith/thought public servants? Is their work on par with that of others who work for 501c3 non-for-profit groups and for government agencies? It used to be, but as of January 31st, the federal government has changed its mind about that….
While religion can be abused in the most horrendous ways, it remains a source of enormous social good and unprecedented public service. The new regulation seems to uphold only one of those truths, and in doing so, is actually taking a position on faith (dare I say, “establishing” one?) – a hostile one. 
Yes, hostile would seem to be the word. And that, in a word, is increasingly what secularization is coming to mean: Hostility to religion. In the recent past we who are believers considered secularization to be an unfortunate forgetfulness of God or a disregarding of things spiritual and Godly. But in recent years secularization has increasingly taken on a direct hostility to religious faith, to its existence in the public square, and to its practice anywhere outside the four walls of a Church.
The new PSLF wording illustrates and proceeds from just that kind of growing and “accepted” cultural hostility. Mr. Hirschfield concludes:
…While church-[state] separation is a wise and necessary policy, separation is not about discrimination against, or hostility towards, religion. The regulation, as newly reformulated is clumsy at best, insensitive for certain, and may even be illegally hostile to religion. This one needs to change. 
Here’s a video on the well known and related matter of Religious Liberty in case you missed it: