Government’s Gold, Government’s Rules

Candidate Obama didn’t care for President Bush’s 2002 executive order that allowed faith-based groups to discriminate in hiring and still … Continued

Candidate Obama didn’t care for President Bush’s 2002 executive order that allowed faith-based groups to discriminate in hiring and still get federal grants to run social programs. “If you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion,” Obama said in Ohio last July.

So it was somewhat surprising last week when President Obama failed to rescind Bush’s order when he announced the rules for his own White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “President Obama understands he’s at risk of alienating the vast majority of the evangelical community,” Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (and On Faith panelist) told CNN.

Obama’s order did say that hiring rules would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis when there are complaints of discrimination. It’s a commendable way to try to avoid conflict, but if religious groups are going to take Caesar’s money to do God’s work, shouldn’t they abide by Caesar’s anti-discrimination laws?

The 1964 Civil Right Act allows religious organizations to discriminate in hiring. Baptist churches can decide they only want to hire males preachers. Catholic schools can hire only Catholic teachers. And so on. But that was before Bush allowed Baptist churches and Catholic schools to start applying for government grants.

Obama the former community organizer knows that most faith-based organizations are 501(c)3 nonprofits run by people who are motivated by their faith (not by money) to do good works. They don’t discriminate or proselytize when they feed the hungry, clothe the naked, house and homeless and serve as their neighbors.

The goal of the new faith-based initiative, Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, “will not be to favor one religious group over another — or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line our Founders wisely drew between church and state.”

But this line is blurry. How much blurrier (and more contentious) will it get when millions in federal funds start to flow?

Will the Southern Baptist Convention be allowed to take federal tax dollars to help hurricane victims if they tell them about Jesus while they’re giving them food and water?

Will World Vision be allowed to use federal tax dollars to care for orphans in Muslim or Hindu nations while refusing to hire non-Christians to do the caring?

Will the pastor of First Megachurch of Houston be given federal tax dollars to provide drug counseling for deadbeat dads while preaching and practicing discrimination against homosexuals or atheists or illegal aliens?

If so, many church-state separatists will cry foul. If not, many evangelicals will complain about sectarian discrimination.

There’s a simple and faithful way to solve this problem. If evangelical groups don’t want the federal government telling them what they can or cannot do with federal tax dollars, they shouldn’t take federal funds.

“What does the LORD require of you?” it says in the Book of Micah. “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” No federal funds required.

“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me,” Jesus says in the Book of Matthew.

In neither case is government funding required.

Written by
  • pierrejc2

    Koremori wrote, “Religious institutions, with very good reason, worry about state aid being used as a wedge by secularists to forcibly secularize charitable religious institutions. To proceed with their agenda of destroying the Christian voice in the public square.”

  • gordon7

    If the president and American citizens are willing to support organizations and religions such as Scientology, Wicca, and Buddhism, etc., with their tax dollars, then fine. Otherwise, the issue of government funding won’t ever fly. the evangelicals are not the only believers in the country and you can bet the others will want their share too (and rightfully so.)

  • WestTexan2008

    Hillman,

  • aredant

    I was really hoping that Obama would dissolve this divisive and unnecessary agency. It is Theocratic in principle and does not have a place in our government. The Evangelical bullies will push and prod and complain until they get their way. This how we got God on our money, in our pledge, and at the end of every single political speech. None of this existed in the earlier years of the founding of the US.

  • smlrkeva

    The seperation of church and state is so much more clearly defined than other debates in the constitution, the fact that Obama is even pandering to this 12-step ex POTUS’s programs in any way disturbs me. Jesus sure the hell didn’t make Bush a moral, nor competent leader. Let’s save fantasies for books…oh yeah, there is one – the bible

  • WestTexan2008

    whitetrash4u wrote:Why cannot the religious community raise their own funds to do their missions? If the government is to be involved in charity work at all, then it should be completely secular.That is question that the writer avoids and many of the posters here do not understand.The vast, vast majority of these faith-based initiatives are programs that were started with church/private donations, and that have proven effective over time within their faith-based setting. Rather than the government ‘re-inventing the wheel’ for an already existing and working program, it is a better use of tax-payer dollars to supplement or expand the existing program. The rules are negotiated between the government oversight and the institution. Alcoholics Anonymous is a good example. My church is located in a ‘less-than-desirable part’ of town and has several AA meetings each week. Many of the folks who come have been ordered there by a judge. We provide the space and the government gives us a small stipend to cover the cost of heating/cooling and so forth. With have rules; no smoking in the building, please watch your language as best you can, etc.. The government/AA has rules; no proselyting or collecting names, addresses, etc..If somebody is uncomfortable with a church setting, then they have the option to go to an AA meeting outside of a church. If there isn’t one, they have the option to start one and, after it has proved its viability, apply for government aid.Note: the vast majority of AA groups are not government funded or supported in any way – the churches/institutions and the AA group work out the arrangement.

  • dolph924

    No way a dime of government money should go to ANY religious sect. But, if money is given in grants, it should carry with it no-discrimination clauses relating to who is hired or helped by the program involved. Let each cult pick its own huckster shaman, but when it comes to the government program, absolutely not.

  • svreader

    Its nuts to have an “office of faith-based services”Its like selling ham sandwiches at the western wall.

  • drbill21

    Government is not offering federal dollars to faith-based organizations because it is in the best interest of those organization, it is doing it because faith-based organizations are BETTER, precisedly because they are faith-based, at doing certain kinds of community work. Separating faith and works diminishes both. Good works are more effective if they contain a spiritual component. Obama apparently GETS that.It is the job of govt, not churches, not to discriminate. As long as the govt does not discriminate against particular faith-based organizations in the distribution of grants, it should not matter whether the churches discriminate. That is, as long as each religious group has the SAME right to discriminate, so to speak, then the govt is being non-discriminatory in its allocation of funds as long as each group qualifies based on its good works and independent of it religious beliefs or practices.Put more awkwardly perhaps, the govt should not be allowed to discriminate against discriminators.

  • WestTexan2008

    Whispermesafe, You seem to have had a bad experience with a non-profit homeless shelter, but to suggest that somebody is doing this to make money makes no sense. Most paid non-profit workers make much less then private sector equivalent jobs. If these shelters were the cash cow you suggest, don’t you think more folks would be clamoring to start one?

  • WestTexan2008

    Dolph924,

  • ConservaTibbs

    Good post. The “faith based” charities initiative was a terrible idea under Bush and it a worse idea under Obama. It is just one more area where Bush abandoned conservative ideology in favor of a bigger, more intrusive federal government. With government money comes government strings, and churches and parachurch organizations should avoid entanglements with government – especially the federal government.

  • Dieterman

    Conservatibbs – Come join us liberals. The conservatives have veered so far off in their desire for religious authoritarianism in the past two decades that it’s we liberals who are now the ones manning the ramparts to maintain a semblance of the free and just society our country’s founding fathers intended to establish.

  • koremori

    “Us liberals ?”Militant secularists do not own the Democratic Party (although they do own the elite media) and they do not speak to or for minority voters in any way, shape, or form. Minority voters understand that social agencies without a spiritual grounding just hand out checks without transforming lives. And demographics are on the side of minority voters who care a whole lot more about transforming lives for the better than Christianity-hating white latte liberals.

  • phoenixresearch

    “As long as the govt does not discriminate against particular faith-based organizations in the distribution of grants, it should not matter whether the churches discriminate. That is, as long as each religious group has the SAME right to discriminate, so to speak, then the govt is being non-discriminatory in its allocation of funds as long as each group qualifies based on its good works and independent of it religious beliefs or practices.”——————————–Disingenuous sophistry, at best, and completely inaccurate.The 14th Amendment, specifically Section 1, and SCOTUS decisions devolving therefrom forbid discrimination by government, which also happens to include its money, Bubba.You aren’t one of those Liberty U. law school grads, are you ???Nice try, though.

  • koremori

    And if white Christianity-hating secularists think that they will impose their definition of social services on minority communities that tend to be deeply religious, they are being foolishly naive.If they think Pelosi is going to try to ram secularizing church-based welfare agencies down the throats of Obama and the Black Caucus, think again.

  • John1263

    Eliminate the entire office. God and government denigrate each other when mixed. It is the great irony that many of the denominations now begging UNcle Sam for handouts were adament supporters of church state seperation in the past 175 years since they knew getting into the belly of the beast meant compromising faith, NO MATTER WHAT. And to all you very simplistic folks who think debying religious institutions access to the public coffers is denying free exercize of religion- if I don’t buy you a swimming pool, I am mnot denying you the right to enjoy swimming. If I do buy you a pool I will set the hours and terms of use. And will make sure all your friends and npt freidns from your neighborhood have access to it. My money, my rules. Babylon’s money, babylon’s rules.

  • WestTexan2008

    John, Dolph, et alWould you rather go without these services or have the faith-based institutions run them, knowing that they are not denominationally neutral? Using John’s pool analogy, does the government pay for the chlorine in the Baptist’s pool in exchange for the neighborhood kids getting to use it under the Baptist’s rules and supervision?

  • Dieterman

    Koremori – Good luck in getting all those bible-thumping conservative whites from Oklahoma to the Carolinas to join you. Take my word for it – if Roe were ever overturned the moment they noticed an increase in the size of “colored people’s” families those conservative whites would suddenly be all for Planned Parenthood.

  • HillMan

    Whisper makes a valid point. Food and Friends, a nonprofit food distribution charity here in DC, pays their top guy around $300,000 a year.Of course not everyone makes that. And a lot volunteer for nothing.But homeless advocacy is definitely a business, and a political movement. Witness the never-ending desire to use astonishingly expensive properties in high profile downtown locations for shelters, when the much wiser choice would be to chose a location elsewhere for 1/10th the cost. But, no, it’s more important that the homeless be ‘visibile’, for political purposes.And homeless shelters themselves aren’t cash cows. But many of the treatment shelters and rehab / halfway houses are. DC pays astonishing sums per person to the owners of these places. Often with terrible results.

  • HillMan

    “May I respectfully suggest that you take your opinions to the Supreme Court. They disagree with you and have since 1964.”Um, this is relevant to the logistics of social services 50 years later?Please elaborate.

  • HillMan

    “Churches have been in the business of charity for a millennium or two longer than the state. In fact, they are rather good at it. Without a spiritual component, the broken life of an alcoholic, an addict, an ex-convict cannot be fixed. Obama knows this. So do minorities who, as we saw under Prop 8, have no use whatsoever for latte liberal secularists or their agenda.”Just had to throw in some anti-gay hate there, didn’t you.Sortof sums up the whole problem with your argument.

  • HillMan

    “Would you rather go without these services or have the faith-based institutions run them, knowing that they are not denominationally neutral?”That’s a false and unnecessary choice, when you can obviously have the services without the discrimination and hate. It’s really quite simple.And it’s what Jesus would do.

  • WestTexan2008

    Hillman,Um, this is relevant to the logistics of social services 50 years later?Please elaborate.It’s the law.It was the law in 1964 and remains the law through today.

  • dangerbird1

    Bush was wrong to fund faith based groups and Obama is wrong to continue the practice. Keep the government out of religion and religion out of the government. The two have no business together.

  • HillMan

    “It’s the law.It was the law in 1964 and remains the law through today.”What’s the law?

  • WestTexan2008

    HillMan wrote:”Would you rather go without these services or have the faith-based institutions run them, knowing that they are not denominationally neutral?”That’s a false and unnecessary choice, when you can obviously have the services without the discrimination and hate. It’s really quite simple.========================But feel free to start a social service agency that provides similar goods and services for less money than the faith-based groups and prove me wrong.

  • WestTexan2008

    Hillman,

  • HillMan

    “If it were not the choice, we wouldn’t be having this discussion because secular agencies would be delivering low-cost, high-quality services under government supervision and we wouldn’t need all of those nasty faith-based organizations and their volunteer labor.”See, now, no reason to adopt a snide, condescending tone.Very unJesus of you.And, again, you misrepresent the choice. Churches can deliver these services without discriminating and hating. It’s their choice.

  • WestTexan2008

    Hillman stated:But homeless advocacy is definitely a business, and a political movement. Witness the never-ending desire to use astonishingly expensive properties in high profile downtown locations for shelters, when the much wiser choice would be to chose a location elsewhere for 1/10th the cost. But, no, it’s more important that the homeless be ‘visibile’, for political purposes.Agreed, but unfortunately many of the homeless are in the downtown and ‘expensive’ areas. We used to offer to bus the homeless to a clean, neat, well-run (read: safe) shelter, with better food than the downtown, but most of the homeless were not interested. They would rather take their chances on the street or in a downtown shelter that would let them come and go as they wanted.

  • HillMan

    “Agreed, but unfortunately many of the homeless are in the downtown and ‘expensive’ areas. We used to offer to bus the homeless to a clean, neat, well-run (read: safe) shelter, with better food than the downtown, but most of the homeless were not interested.”It’s not really their choice, since it’s my tax dollars. If they don’t want the help then it’s really more of an optional thing for them. They aren’t ‘homeless’ if they refuse shelter because it’s not in the part of town they prefer.

  • HillMan

    “It was the law in 1964 and remains the law through today.”See, now, you are arguing legality. I’m arguing morality and decency.How very Pharisee of you.And you don’t address my main argument – the logistics involved. That’s a fact, regardless of legality.Tell me – do you think churches should be able to discriminate against blacks or women in hiring or treatment?No? Why not?

  • nahummer

    I was truly disappointed to read that Obama had reinstated the Faith Based discrimination program as I truly thought he represented a chance to move away from the fundamentalists:

  • WestTexan2008

    Hillman,But your comments do seem condescending both to me (‘very unJesus of you’) and to the Fundementalist Christian who does not see thing the way you do. You call it hate and discrimination, they call it ‘telling the truth in love.’

  • HillMan

    “You call it hate and discrimination, they call it ‘telling the truth in love.’”I call it being elitist and tearing down your fellow American just because he happens to be gay or atheist or anything else you don’t like.And it has no place in the provision of social services paid for with tax dollars, from a basic fairness point of view. My gay tax dollars are supporting your institution, both in the fact that your organization is tax exempt (but still gets fire and police and infrastructure), and from the fact that churches get my tax dollars to assist them in their social work.When you do that, you have to help me and my kind as well, whether you like us or not. Otherwise, don’t take our money.It really is that simple.

  • WestTexan2008

    Hilman stated:No? Why not?I suggest that you’re not arguing morality at all, just your own biases.I’m not sure what your logistics argument is – please elaborate. =======BTW, you’re shifting back to condescending language again with that Pharisee remark.

  • HillMan

    “But your comments do seem condescending both to me (‘very unJesus of you’) and to the Fundementalist Christian who does not see thing the way you do.”Actually, my comment was quite literal. Christ would not advocate hating gays, atheists, or others, and he would not deny services or employment to them as a matter of course.But you do.It really is that simple.

  • HillMan

    “BTW, you’re shifting back to condescending language again with that Pharisee remark.”Again, if the shoe fits. The Pharisees were known for being moneychangers in the temple, comingling commerce with religion, and hating those that weren’t like them.That’s what you are advocating the ability to do, with taxpayer money.

  • HillMan

    “They do it all the time – as of today the Roman Catholic Church has no women priests.”And while I think that’s stupid and discriminatory, I fully support their right to do that. As long as they don’t take taxpayer money.

  • HillMan

    “I’m not sure what your logistics argument is – please elaborate.”Several posters here disingenously argued that atheists, gays, etc., could just go start their own social networks if ‘Christian’ churches wouldn’t do so.I argued that’s simply not logistically possible on a nationwide basis.That was actually the majority of my posting by the time you first replied.Your Supreme Court legality argument doesn’t address that.

  • WestTexan2008

    HillMan stated:”You call it hate and discrimination, they call it ‘telling the truth in love.’”I call it being elitist and tearing down your fellow American just because he happens to be gay or atheist or anything else you don’t like.And it has no place in the provision of social services paid for with tax dollars, from a basic fairness point of view. My gay tax dollars are supporting your institution, both in the fact that your organization is tax exempt (but still gets fire and police and infrastructure), and from the fact that churches get my tax dollars to assist them in their social work.When you do that, you have to help me and my kind as well, whether you like us or not. Otherwise, don’t take our money.It really is that simple.=============You are making my point.The government doesn’t have to give those organizations anything. The government chooses to because nobody else will do what they do for the little money with which they are willing to do it. The Government chooses to use your tax dollars and mine to provide social services through government and non-governmental agencies. They could just as easily choose a gay-friendly church agency – which is exactly my challenge to you earlier. If you don’t like the agency doing the service now, start your own using your point of view and then apply for the funding yourself. Again, you make my point.

  • HillMan

    “My use of the word ‘nasty’ was to try to characterize them from your point of view. Obviously it was either too subtle or you don’t see them as nasty at all.”A good many Christian churches and volunteers are wonderful people, truly doing God’s work.But that doesn’t justify hate, elitism, and exclusion when doing that work.I’ve met some terrific Christian volunteers.

  • WestTexan2008

    Whispermesafe stated:==============Why not work for one of the secular agencies then?

  • HillMan

    “They could just as easily choose a gay-friendly church agency – which is exactly my challenge to you earlier.”Again, a disingenous argument. There simply isn’t a nationwide network of gay-friendly churches that covers everywhere. Sure, there are some in big cities, but generally not in rural areas.

  • WestTexan2008

    HillMan stated:”They could just as easily choose a gay-friendly church agency – which is exactly my challenge to you earlier.”Again, a disingenuous argument. There simply isn’t a nationwide network of gay-friendly churches that covers everywhere.

  • HillMan

    “They could just as easily choose a gay-friendly church agency – which is exactly my challenge to you earlier.”And gay churches already have their hands full, mostly with trying to undo some of the damage many (but not all) Christian churches have inflicted on gays already. The hate that has poured onto gay congregations from some non-gay ones is truly astonishing.

  • HillMan

    “You might want to look up the MCC, the UCC, the Episcopal Church and http://www.gaychurch.org.”Are you seriously suggesting that in a small town in the Deep South this is a real option?And all of those organizations combined don’t have 1/10th the resources that other Christian organizations have.And they certainly don’t have the ‘in’ relationship with localities that the mainstream churches have. They don’t have the $1 a year rentals on massive social service properties, and the wide network of local support, both at the individual level and at the local government level.Yes, they can certainly help.But they can’t possibly do it nationwide. It’s simply not possible.And suggesting that it is is disingenous, especially from someone like you that obviously has knowledge of the social service community.

  • mharwick

    Why does the government give money to churches in the first place?

  • HillMan

    “It is not a disingenuous argument – it is a very sincere one and there are several networks of gay-friendly churches and whole denominations that are gay-friendly.”Are you really suggesting that officials in small town USA will open their hearts and work with MCC or any other ‘liberal’ church? Really?Especially when they have the option of going with ‘one of their own’?

  • WestTexan2008

    Hillman stated:

  • whispermesafe

    WestTexas wrote:”Why not work for one of the secular agencies then?”———————————————Check it out. Now I volunteer with a local law enforcement agency with a stated anti- discrimination policy. On behalf of them, I vet faith-based and community service providers.

  • WestTexan2008

    Hillman wrote:Really?Especially when they have the option of going with ‘one of their own’?I won’t speak for others, but my West Texan city (100K, not including cattle) does. They work with the local Episcopal, Lutheran and some of the non-denoms.

  • WestTexan2008

    Whispermesafe,

  • jamesmmoylan

    On reading through the comments I am amazed at the thin and unrewarding debate that is occurring in America regarding faith based community services.If America was a modern democracy this debate would not be occurring. The reason America relies so heavily on the ‘Church’ is because it is such a morally bankrupt society that it can’t provide health, housing, and income support for its own citizens.As an Australian I know that when the economy takes a downturn then I will be insulated by a caring socially-democratic government that will assist me to stay in my housing, will provide me with ongoing health care for free, and will support my family with welfare payments of a quantum sufficient to provide a reasonable standard of living.American citizens have the right to become beggars in their own country.

  • HillMan

    “I won’t speak for others, but my West Texan city (100K, not including cattle) does.”That is encouraging.But not typical. But, then, West Texas has never really been part of the Deep South.But you don’t even have to go to the Deep South to find resistance. A lot of folks here in DC are loathe to work with MCC and others. And the suburbs and exurbia? Even worse. And rural VA? Even even worse.My point remains – blithely suggesting that Christian churches be allowed to use government funds to hate and discriminate because the rest of us can find ‘our own organizations’ is disingenous and does the entire argument a disservice.And, say the Salvation Army or the Catholic Church get a large grant for a particular service in an area. Do we really think the gay church or the Muslims will get a similar grant? How do you even administer that? It’d be a massive duplication of efforts, which is silly.

  • keimoe

    Geeeeez. When are we gonna stop giving tax breaks to churches anyway! Take federal funds, then they should pay taxes.

  • ChicagoJim

    For me, what all this boils down to is I don’t want my tax money (and despite the lavender ceiling, I pay a lot} to enable the Southern Baptist Convention to foment hatred toward me, a person given the ability to love emotionally and erotically a member of my own sex. Why should I pay someone to hate me?

  • logan303

    Amen!

  • WestTexan2008

    Hillman,My point remains – blithely suggesting that Christian churches be allowed to use government funds to hate and discriminate because the rest of us can find ‘our own organizations’ is disingenous and does the entire argument a disservice.And, say the Salvation Army or the Catholic Church get a large grant for a particular service in an area. Do we really think the gay church or the Muslims will get a similar grant? How do you even administer that? It’d be a massive duplication of efforts, which is silly.But I’m still not making one critical point strong enough. The reason that the Muslims or the SA or the Romans are providing the services in the first place is that it is part of their theology to do so. And because they do it from a theological basis, they bring that theology into the service (they would call it a ministry). It is not realistic to ask them to remove the very root reason that they do the ministry (their theology) just to receive government funding. Some might, but more likely, they will turn down the government’s money and continue with what they are doing.

  • guytaur1

    It is amazing that you let your government get away with not upholding the safety of its citizens. Instead you let Churches and their Faith Based Organisations do the job. These organisations should be in addition to government services not instead of. This has happened due to the Republican argument of: government is the problem. This gives massive basis for government not having an obligation to the people. This reached its height with Bush.This is why you have homeless people starving in the streets. This is why New Orleans is still rebuilding. This is why you have bridges collapsing and roads getting flooded.It is simple. No tax dollars to Churches and their Faith based organisations. Instead they can go to helping house and feed people whom do not have a home. Mostly through no fault of their own. If necessary tax the rich. You know those Wall Street types.

  • jjedif

    It is bad idea to give these religious fanatics money because their own hatred and bigotry won’t allow them to care for all people equally…which federal law and the US Constitution require.

  • WestTexan2008

    How do you even administer that? It’d be a massive duplication of efforts, which is silly.==========You don’t. To have massive social service structures in place at government expense is wasteful and doesn’t accomplish much – just look at the VA of five years ago.More and more, the ‘just in time’ model is being adopted for these kinds of social services. And since the churches and other front-line care organizations are most in touch with the changing needs ‘of the street’ they are a logical place to push the funding to accomplish what the government wants. But like the ‘just in time’ business model must trust its suppliers to deliver the right thing at the right time, so the government has to trust its ‘suppliers’ of social services. And like the business model, the social services model can only choose from those available ‘vendors.’ Which begs the question, if the churches don’t do it, who will?

  • paris1969

    Any way you look at it, faith grants help churches grow and build their congregations. Tax dollars should never be used in this way. It is unfair that taxpayers are being forced to support religions thay may be repugnant to them. This is “taxation without representation” that our forefathers fought against.

  • WestTexan2008

    phoenixresearch,DrBill21′s understanding of the law is the current interpretation and has been since 1964 – the former president added nothing new but another layer of administration.This was put in placed to allow religious and similar groups to deny employment to those whose theology or morals did not comply with the organization’s. For example, a Baptist church could not be compelled to hire a more qualifies Satanist over a Baptist because of theological incompatibility. The Supremes have already upheld that reading of the law.

  • iamweaver

    I am still waffling on this issue, more because of the collision of a meticulously-maintained separation agenda vs. real-world actions.For example, Fairfax county has a homeless center and during the winter, offers places for homeless to sleep. But the center is a Christian one, and the venues for the homeless are almost all churches. These are the people and places that are available.These programs are not viable unless most of the heavy lifting is “free” volunteer labor, and the organizations that do so are churches. What should take their place? You have really two choices – either the local government backs out of the picture entirely (“Fairfax County Abandons Homeless!”), or they start their own, independent programs and try to “steal” volunteers from the already successful system. Neither of these seems workable or likely to be fruitful.

  • WestTexan2008

    Gordon 7,There are currently Buddhist chaplains, but not Scientologist or Wiccan – not due to the government’s rules, but due to the groups themselves. Wiccans have no central body that represents them and thus cannot provide an endorsing agent; Scientologists choose not to. But in both cases and in the case of all otherwise unrepresented groups, it is incumbent upon the federal government to facilitate worship for these groups as long as it does not violate, safety, order or disciplinary concerns. What does that mean? It means that a Wiccan in prison will be allowed time and space to worship, but will not be given candles or knives or some of the other articles oft used as that may cause safety issues. It means that in a military unit the Wiccan must worship fully clothed. I hope that answers your concern.

  • WestTexan2008

    The Writer asks:1. Will the Southern Baptist Convention be allowed to take federal tax dollars to help hurricane victims if they tell them about Jesus while they’re giving them food and water?2. Will World Vision be allowed to use federal tax dollars to care for orphans in Muslim or Hindu nations while refusing to hire non-Christians to do the caring?3. Will the pastor of First Megachurch of Houston be given federal tax dollars to provide drug counseling for deadbeat dads while preaching and practicing discrimination against homosexuals or atheists or illegal aliens?=====================The answer to 1 and 2 is ‘Yes’; and on 3, the writer misses the point of the programs. It is because the churches are willing to meet these needs – as Iamweaver points out, with a volunteer workforce – that the government helps them in this care-giving. If the deadbeat dad or atheist doesn’t want to go to First Megachurch for the program, he can go to First Atheist down the street. If there is no First Atheist, perhaps the local faithful atheists should get together, offer a drug counseling program from their point of view and apply for federal funding to help. If the local atheists don’t want to provide this ministry/service, then the deadbeat dad and atheist are out of luck – sort of like the woman who wants birth control, but doesn’t believe in abortion. She may have to go to Planned Parenthood anyway, if she wants those services. This isn’t new – it’s been in place since 1964.

  • EnemyOfTheState

    I voted for Obama, but this is one policy I can do without. Feel free to practice your religion, but not on my dime.

  • tlbentley63

    At this pace Obama is one term

  • wilkestraphill

    Faith Based tax dollars is NOT democratic, in my opinion.It is used by churches to recruit/convert people to their church. I am opposed to my tax dollars being used for evangelization.We the People can donate to churches of our choice. And the Finance chair and Parish Council may have oversight of all money that is spent.Tax payers will use the donations as a deduction, if they have proof of the donation. THIS is democracy – NOT being forced to allow our money in a way we strongly object to.

  • HillMan

    “If the deadbeat dad or atheist doesn’t want to go to First Megachurch for the program, he can go to First Atheist down the street. If there is no First Atheist, perhaps the local faithful atheists should get together, offer a drug counseling program from their point of view and apply for federal funding to help.”That’s nonsense. Everyone knows that mainstream Christian churches have the resources and infrastructure in the US. They are the ones that will be getting the federal grant money.Suggesting that atheists or others should just form their own support groups is silly. That sort of thing is not feasible, since there is only so much $$ to go around, most of these groups don’t have the resources to do large charity works, and many parts of the US are not going to allow atheist groups or gay groups or such to operate easily. And suggesting that a million splinter groups try to open to serve each constituency is a stunning duplication of services and very, very wasteful.Let’s not forget these church folks are also tax exempt.They are being propped up by US taxpayer funds. When that happens, you have an obligation to help ALL US taxpayers, not just those you like.

  • acpress

    Pres. Obama continues to compromise one principle after another as per his campaign promises.Religious and racial discrimination now has taken another turn and has become a weapon of necessity for provincial Judeo-Christian whites. They are finding that they cannot compete with many in education and competence. President’s recent appointments serve as examples; he almost totally avoids the academic experts, including whites, in his government and goes back to lobbyists, tax-evaders and tainted politicians mostly in the East to keep the talented intellectuals away. Why is that there are no experts in our more than 200 universities to solve our problems? He does not want them to question his compromising policies, some against the constitution of the US. Is Obama revolution already over?

  • Dieterman

    So Obama continues his craven pandering to evangelicals. If he thinks these voters can be bought off so easily he’s badly mistaken . Their hostility to the Democratic party – the party that believes in a civil society and civil government that works – runs far too deep for that. Given the economic meltdown Obama has inherited, which won’t be turned around any time soon, and the renowned impatience of Americans he’s likely to need the continuing enthusiasm of “them that brung ‘m” if he hopes to be re-elected. That enthusiasm won’t be maintained unless he does plenty – court appointments for example and his promise to advance the legal equality of gay Americans – that inevitably will evoke the wrath of the theocratic right, faith based tax money or no faith based tax money. It’s us or them, Obama. Choose wisely because they’ll never adore you like they adore Sarah Palin or any other Republican nominee for President, for that matter.

  • HillMan

    “As long as the govt does not discriminate against particular faith-based organizations in the distribution of grants, it should not matter whether the churches discriminate. That is, as long as each religious group has the SAME right to discriminate, so to speak, then the govt is being non-discriminatory in its allocation of funds as long as each group qualifies based on its good works and independent of it religious beliefs or practices.”Nonsense.Encouraging discrimination and hatred with tax dollars is a bad idea. Period.And we simply don’t have the resources to set up dozens of duplicative charity services.You’re suggesting a massive waste of taxpayer funds, and a stunningly inefficient charity provision system, for what? So you can hate and discriminate?

  • erlonsp

    Station and Religion HAVE to be apart from eachother!That’s the very basestone uppon witch modern civilization was built! 350 years go, God “WANTED” us to obbey to kings and bishops… Freedom from Religious constrains is one of mankind’s greatest achievements!I do not blame nor pick on anybody’s personal belief, but when it cames to government, secular non-religious approach is always the best for the common good.Government should not fund ANY religious group to do ANYTHING…. including disaster relief! This is Government’s job! No religious strings attached!If Bush’s FEMA failed to deal with Katrina, reform FEMA… do not outsource it to religious groups!Countries and their government shall love nor praise NO God (be it the Jewish, Christian, Muslim or any Hindu)!Anything different from that and you end up like Iran or other Theocracies.

  • hyjanks

    Us atheists–you know, the most discriminated group of people on the planet–are just going to have to wait for sanity to prevail in our social lives eventually. And it seems to be heading in that direction with instant communication, access to information of all kinds and believers-turned-cynics who see Muslims using their faith to destroy and kill, the Pope looking kindly on Bishops who doubt the Holocaust, and tax-exempt status to all who believe in spooks, ethereal beings and . . . gods.

  • drferg248

    Do Not Miss The Hand Of God Today and Tomorrow (Written 1/19/09) Today is the day we as a nation celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday. Dr. King was born on January 15, but it is today January 19 in the year of 2009 that we celebrate Dr. King’s Birthday. Today is a day of prayer. Today is a day of reflection. Today is a day of celebration. Today is a day of action. However, in all our prayers, reflections, celebrations and actions let us not miss the hand of God in this time of our nation’s history. Dr. King was a young preacher who had a calling from God on his life. Dr. King was a priest. He ministered to our soul. He marched against segregation. He was jailed to free us from racial discrimination. He was a drum major for justice. However, most of all, Dr. King was a prophet. In Washington, DC, he said, “I have a dream.” He said, “Let freedom ring.” He said, “One day his four children will be judged not by the color of their skins but by the content of their character.” In Memphis, TN, he said, “I’ve been to the mountaintop.” He said, “I’ve seen the promise land.” He said, “I may not get there with you but we as a people will get to the promise land.” He said, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Dr. King was the Moses of his generation! Just like the Moses in the Bible, God sent Dr. King to say a word to Old Pharaoh. He told the old Pharaohs of the Old South, people like Bill Connors, George Wallace and Lester Maddox, to Let My People Go! Dr. King led the Exodus out of the Egypt of America. The Red Sea parted and Blacks got their Civil Rights and Voting Rights. The song says, “Go down Moses, way down in Egypt land. Tell old Pharaoh to let my people go!” After being set free, just like the Children of Israel, we as Black people went into the Wilderness for 40 years. Dr. King was assassinated and we had to bury this mountain of a man. Unlike the Moses in the Bible who led his people for 40 years in the Wilderness, Dr. King was gone. However, the prophecy of God had gone forth. For 40 years, we suffered. Richard Nixon implemented law and order but it brought forth contempt for the law and a reduction of order. Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon but had no vision for the people. Jimmy Carter tried to do the right thing but did not stand firm for the right. Ronald Reagan said he wanted America to be a thousand points of light with a trickle down theory for the economy but he put the light out on civil rights, employment rights and human rights, and nothing trickled down to the people but despair and the slogan of “Just say no” to drugs. George H. W. Bush said read my lips “No new taxes” but made sure that those who were taxed the most were at the bottom of the barrel with their lips pouting out. Bill Clinton brought some hope to America as morning came to America through the man from Hope, AK but his human failings and his conservative moorings limited his work for the people. George W. Bush came in on a dark cloud having not won the election, 911 occurred as he failed to see the warnings, he created a war in Iraq looking for non-existing weapons of mass destruction, over 5000 of our children have died in the war for no good reason, and our economy is in the worst shape since the Great Depression. We were in the Wilderness! Now some 40 years later, God has sent another man to take us into the promise land. His name is President Barack Hussein Obama. President Obama is a young politician who has a calling from God on his life. President Obama is a lawyer. He is a professor. He is a community activist. However, most of all President Obama is a warrior. He said, “He’s fired up and ready to go.” He said, “Yes we can.” He said, “We as a people will get to the promise land.” He is ready to take his people and America to the promise land. President Obama is the warrior who will lead us all into the promise land. He said he is of the Joshua Generation. President Obama is the Joshua of his generation to our people and our nation! Just like the Joshua in the Bible, God is sending President Obama to take the land of milk and honey. For Joshua in the Bible, the battle began at the walled city of Jericho. Jericho is in the middle of Canaan Land. Washington, DC is in the middle between the Northeastern and the Southeastern states of America. Joshua first major victory occurs in Jericho as the walls came tumbling down. President Obama’s first major victory will occur in Washington, DC as the walls will come tumbling down. However, just like the Joshua in the Bible, President Obama will face obstacles. Joshua in the Bible was defeated in the battle at the little city of Ai. This occurred because Joshua underestimated the battle at Ai and his followers stole things in Ai that God said was only for God’s use. In addition, Joshua in the Bible made a mistake when he unknowingly cut a treaty with his enemies. This occurred because Joshua did not spy out the land completely to know who his enemies in Canaan Land were and who his friends beyond Canaan Land were. However, Joshua in the Bible had more victories than defeats and he conquered Canaan Land. Just like Joshua in the Bible, President Obama will have his share of defeats, mistakes and missteps but in the end, he will be victorious. God is telling President Obama to be strong and of a good courage. He will have more victories than defeats and he will conquer this Canaan Land of America. The song says, “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.” In the end, we as a people will find out that it was never our Moses, Dr. King, or our Joshua, President Obama, who really brought us out of the land of Egypt in America or put us in the Promise Land in America. In the end, we as a people will learn that it was always the Captain of the Lord’s Host (Army) working through we the people who will put us in the Promise Land. The Captain of the Lord’s Army will lead us into the promise land because the Captain of the Lord’s Army is none other than Joshua the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. His Jewish name is Yeshua ha Masheah. His Greek name is Iesus Christos. His English name is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ will win the war to take the Promise Land and we as a people will fight the good fight of faith and win the battles in the Promise Land. So do not miss the hand of God at work right now! Today, January 19, 2009, we honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Moses to America. Tomorrow, January 20, 2009, we honor President Barak Hussein Obama, the Joshua to America. Dr. King and President Obama are linked back to back. God is making it crystal clear that he is linking the leadership of the Moses to America back to back with the leadership of the Joshua to America just like the book of Deuteronomy is linked back to back to the book of Joshua. Make no mistake, “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” Deuteronomy and Joshua states: Deuteronomy 34:1-8 (Moses goes to the mountaintop to die – Dr. King)2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea, 3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar. 4 And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. 5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. 6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. 7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. 8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended. Deuteronomy 34:9 (God’s hand is on Joshua – President Obama) Joshua 1:1-8 (God encourages Joshua – President Obama – to be strong and of a good courage)2 Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. 3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. 5 There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. 6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them. 7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Joshua 5 (The Captain of the LORD’s Host – Jesus Christ – is the true leader of Joshua and the Children of Israel –President Obama and We as a People)14 And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my Lord unto his servant? 15 And the captain of the LORD’s host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so. God’s hand is directing the transfer of the anointing from Dr. King to President Obama. This is a handoff of glory, honor and power to let the world know that God is in control. Just as the prophet of God said in 1968 and the warrior of God has repeated in 2008, “WE AS A PEOPLE WILL GET TO THE PROMISE LAND! Rev. Dr. George St. A. Ferguson, Sr.ProfessorCanan Bible CollegeNorth Chaleston, SC843-769-2846301-613-9238 (Cell)

  • coloradodog

    “..the vast majority of the evangelical community..” has damn near destroyed America already with their “Christian” oil crusades, the spread of STD’s and unwanted pregnancies as a result of their prohibition of sex education, and their divisive hatred directed at gays, Muslims and Mexicans. Who gives a F if Obama alienates them.

  • phillynick

    I think most of you have it wrong because you’ve already taken a position and therefore don’t see the compromise. I think it’s fairly simple. All faiths and non faiths would be eligible for grants as long as they qualify. In other words they have to provide a community service that is needed and can be justified. Once the service is up and running the service can’t discriminate against the community based on the religion or lack of one. In other words, if a person who needs drug counseling is a person of non faith, the faith based organization can’t turn him/her away because they don’t believe in this particular faith. In some cases faith is a part of the rehabiltation, and the faith based organization will continue to be able to use their faith in rehab, however a person without faith can’t be denied this service. He/she can still get rehab thru the faith based service. They are still invited to participate and shouldn’t be denied. And this will apply across the board. The faith based org will know the requirements of the grant before the grant is issued. If they disagree with the grant application rules, they shouldn’t apply or the application will be denied because the grant was written in a way that disqualifies them. I think most orgs with good intent will be funded and most will be okay. However there will be groups that will attempt to challenge the Presidents Faith Based Programs and they will be exposed.

  • solsticebelle

    Religion does NOT belong in government. PERIOD.And Obama’s refusal to ban outright discrimination that is FUNDED BY TAX DOLLARS proves he is nothing but a pandering, doubletalking politician who doesn’t have the guts to take a stand against bigots.This shows just how far his idea of “bipartisanship” goes….when push comes to shove, he caves.

  • HillMan

    “No one gets Federal funds by selectively targeting the recipient of a service by age, race, religion or sexual preference. That’s illegal.”That’s not entirely true. Many organizations, including the Salvation Army (for example) have a history of telling gays, atheists, and others that they must ‘accept Christ’ before they can receive services.That’s not as common today as it was, but there is still huge pressure put on recipients to ‘repent’ of whatever their supposed sin is before they can get help on an ongoing, non-emergency basis.And it’s not sexual preference. It’s sexual orientation. Big difference.

  • HillMan

    “This isn’t a “some of my best friends are black” kind of statement – it’s pointing out that this tiny, “redneck” church has no problems dealing with known homosexuals.”I simply find that hard to believe. But if it is the case, that’s great.But it is not the norm.

  • Curmudgeon10

    I’m not sure what the ultimate conflicts will be here. One writer assumed the discrimination might occur in the delivery of services, i.e., a charitable faith based organization would not want to provide a meal to a drug abuser because the abuse of drugs is against the faith of the organization. This seems very far fetched to me. More likely is the obvious discrimination in hiring, where a church might not want to hire a goth girl who has “Satan is Right” carved into her forehead.One thing I do know — Obama is making Clinton look like a piker with his own version of “The Third Way.” I am beginning to see a pattern where almost every tough decision is couched in very fuzzy language, and there a holes in the promise big enought to drive a truck through. Ethics rules? Check. Closing Gitmo? Check. Timetable for Iraq? Check.The absolute moral certitude and rectitude of the campaign is slowly fading out, and the reality of the typical approval poll driven governance model is replacing it.

  • HillMan

    “No one gets Federal funds by selectively targeting the recipient of a service by age, race, religion or sexual preference. That’s illegal”Proselytizing as an integral part of providing social services is designed specifically to denigrate gays, people of other religions, etc.By definition.

  • HillMan

    “Which begs the question, if the churches don’t do it, who will?”That’s not the question.The question is “why won’t the churches do it without discrimination and hatred”?

  • italianboy

    Disqualifying faith-based organizations from U.S. government funding would cripple our country’s effectiveness around the world. Ninety-five percent of the world is religious and faith is at the center of most communities; to restrict the U.S. government to funding only organizations that have a strict secular orientation is to essentially limit the U.S. toolkit to a few select tools. If you could spend $100 million in Africa fighting HIV/AIDS and save 10 million lives through secular organizations or could spend the same amount but save 20 million lives through many partners, including grassroots efforts through mosques and churches, which would you choose? Which option is more moral and better represents the diversity and values of the U.S.?

  • HillMan

    “Which begs the question, if the churches don’t do it, who will?”A better question….Once congregations know they can just get a government grant to pay for these things that churches used to do, do we really think congregations will continue to give in the same amounts, and do we really think churches will continue to allocate resources the same way?There’s a very real chance that the govt paying for these things means that it’s simply government paying for it, and churches quit doing as much independent of government funds.Plus, of course, there are issues of fraud and oversight. Should the government be giving money to a church when the church leaders are living a lavish lifestyle, or when the church won’t account for it’s finances?

  • drbill21

    Wow…. i think I was poster #4 or 5 early this morning (as in 2:23a!) and I just checked in to see that state of the discussion. Looks like ‘westtexan2008′ has been doing all the heavy lifting for my perspective.A couple of observations:1. It sure seems that there exists a LOT of hostility towards religion, especially when it comes to the role of religion in the public square. Religion is viewed with an incredibly cynical perspective. 2. Obama GETS IT. I am a lifelong conservative but I have been VERY impressed with him so far and liberals seems to be very disappointed. Unlike the secularists on this board, Obama explained just the other day (see comments at prayer breakfast — To suggest that he is someone pandering to evangelicals is insulting to him. I don’t think he is pandering at all… I think he is sincerely doing what he thinks is right. He is also very smart. If he can somehow de-escalate the culture wars on abortion and gay marriage (unlikely), a large number of evangelicals would vote for him again.I am quite enjoying the profound hair-pulling frustration liberals seems to be experiencing now as Obama just isn’t what they thought he was. They were looking for total domination and he truly is looking for non-partisanship.

  • HillMan

    “If you could spend $100 million in Africa fighting HIV/AIDS and save 10 million lives through secular organizations or could spend the same amount but save 20 million lives through many partners, including grassroots efforts through mosques and churches, which would you choose? Which option is more moral and better represents the diversity and values of the U.S.?”Again, the better question is is it moral of churches to forego such opportunities to save lives because accepting government money would mean they may have to accept, goodness, gays and nonChristians?Would Christ really pass up an opportunity to save countless lives and end suffering because doing so would cause Him to have to associate with gays and nonbelievers, and that such opportunity would have to be done without forced proselytizing?Yet, stunningly, this is the position that many in His church maintain.

  • fan1

    Seems that all “faith” based everythings are slowly losing relevance, which ultimately is a very good trend. I think Obama just feels sorry for them.

  • Dieterman

    Phillynick – You’re overlooking a fundamental fact – money is fungible. The more tax money a religious organization receives the more of its own privately gotten funds it has left to do with as it pleases. For example, a Christian fundamentalist church that helps the hungry and also practices the fraudulent and psychologically dangerous practice of “heterosexual restoration” for gay teens will be left with more money to pursue the latter or, on the other hand, simply to spread the word that all Americans who don’t ascribe to their theology are wicked. Secondly, there exists great variation in the integrity of religious organizations in regard to money and, in fact, fundamentalist Christian organizations tend to rank somewhere near the bottom. This blurring of the lines between government and religion invites a race to the bottom towards even more worldly hucksterism on the part of religions. The truly religious, in my opinion, ought to be more appalled by a program that tempts the integrity of their spiritual leaders with dollars than anyone else.

  • HillMan

    “It sure seems that there exists a LOT of hostility towards religion, especially when it comes to the role of religion in the public square.”Not really. Mostly it’s hostility toward religious hubris and elitism, which we’ve had quite a few examples of. It often overshadows the many good things churches do on a daily basis.

  • HillMan

    “I am a lifelong conservative but I have been VERY impressed with him so far and liberals seems to be very disappointed.”What exactly is a liberal or a conservative?

  • drbill21

    Hillman: ‘The question is “why won’t the churches do it without discrimination and hatred”?’Answers: Well, part of the reason is that 1) churches do not believe they are “hating” and that 2) the discrimination they practice is required by their faith and values (which of course they believe comes from God).I assume that your reference to “hatred” concerns churches opposition to homosexuality (“hater” and “bigot” are the standard epithets for this position and they seem to be used only in this context). Until you can understand or accept that opposition to behavior considered immoral is not hatred, I don’t think you are going to make much progress in persuading us (i.e. the majority) of your position. I know a lot of people who are opposed to homosexuality, but I don’t know anyone who actually hates homosexuals, especially Christians. As Obama understands, one’s religious beliefs are central to one’s identity and requires that the community of “believers” ascribe to certain beliefs and values. It is these beliefs and values that motivate and empower them to do their good works, which includes helping those who are not part of their community and possibly inviting them to be a part of that community by leaving behind old beliefs and values and adopting new ones.However, it also necessarily means limiting their community to those who actually DO share those faith and values. To do otherwise is to dilute the very foundation on which their identity stands.You call this discrimination and it is. But it is the best kind of discrimination. It is not invidious discrimination that simply puts down others for being different out of simple hatred (as you seem to believe). It is noble discrimination that calls people to repent and become better than they are in the same way we say someone has “discriminating” taste. You may not agree that so-and-so needs to repent and you may not agree with the faith and values of these organizations, but your position is actually one of invidious discrimination because you want to exclude them from receiving public funds simply because you don’t agree with their beliefs. Indeed, you HATE their beliefs and values. As I stated in my first post at the beginning of the day, as long as the govt is NEUTRAL in their funding criteria and base it solely on the effectiveness of the community programs these organizations operate, then the govt has no right to insist that these organizations must conform their internal operations to some sort of govt standard that would violate the beliefs of these organizations.This is not only fair, it is effective use of govt funds. It recognizes that people are not simply physical bodies but spiritual creatures and meeting the needs of the WHOLE person is a job best done by religious organizations. Obama, though I was skeptical, actually seems to really, really get it. Listen to his Prayer Breakfast speech 3 days ago. He really does get it.

  • Farnaz2

    This faith-based nonsense has got to end, the sooner the better.

  • wjfreeman1

    The argument that as long as the government gives away the money even-handily, then is doesn’t matter if the grantee discriminates is morally bankrupt. This is the kind of logic that allowed the Bush administration to turn over prisoners to third-party countries who tortured because it was unconstitutional for the U.S. to do so. I am deeply saddened that Obama has reneged on his campaign promise to eliminate the office of faith-based initiatives. I have written extensively about this on my blog:

  • drbill21

    drbill21: “I am a lifelong conservative but I have been VERY impressed with him so far and liberals seems to be very disappointed.”Hillman: “What exactly is a liberal or a conservative?”Perhaps I should be more precise. I actually prefer the terms progressive and traditionalists.Progressives tend to be more secular, believe in the basic goodness of man, that there is no such thing as “sin” but that all “evil” is derived from “institutions” or “systems” and that humanity can be “perfected” if only proper systems can be created. They tend so be suspicious of “authority” and are big on “individualism” especially when it comes to sexual autonomy.Traditionalist believe in authority, place a lot of value on respect towards traditional institutions (church, state, military) that are rooted in hierarchy and authority. They believe in submitting personal autonomy to the greater good of the whole. They believe that mankind is basically “bad” or “selfish” and thus needs to be “disciplined” rather “liberated.” Traditionalists are “patriotic” in the sense that they look on American history as the pinnacle of human achievement and that the 20th century represents in large part a decline from those traditional values. Progressives see America as a promise unfulfilled, a “nice start” that still needs much work and are fond of “blaming America first.” Traditionalists love the parents and thank them for their success. Progressives love their parents but blame them for all their problems.With respect to the topic of this forum, traditionalists see religion as a force for human reform. It views most problems as having spiritual roots and that most individuals problems are mostly self-imposed and with a little material assistance to address the current crisis along with a little “religion” to address the underlying individual causes, then they can help improve people’s lives.Progressives have a more secular view of problems and tend to see people’s problems as caused by “society” and if social institutions could be reformed and govt simply meets people’s material needs, then that is all that matters. Progressive view problems as the result of “oppression” and that if the pressure is removed, the individual will flourish. Traditionalist believe individuals need to repent and quit blaming their problems on everyone else if they are going to flourish.If, therefore, material problems are ultimately spiritual, then it takes spiritual organizations to effectively address them. Govt is totally inadequate (both legally and practically) for such a task so churches try to do it. Govt wisely sees the results and agrees to provide financial assistance so these organization can expand their current operations.That is a short – on the fly – answer to your question.

  • whispermesafe

    I volunteered for two years at a Los Angeles Faith Based Mission. When I went to apply for a job that I was already doing for free, I was stunned to find that a Statement of Christian Faith was required to be hired. I am agnostic. I am too much of a gentleman to sue a Mission to get hired for a job where it was okay to volunteer for two years. The reason is simple. It would take resources from the poor. Food banks are dwindling as demand is increasing. So are jobs. Separation of Church and State is now State-Sponsored Separation from Persons of Faith. Faith-Based discrimination in hiring is wrong. After all, did Barack Obama have to first sign a Statement of Faith before he could become President of the United States?

  • 4thwatch

    David

  • edallan

    To expand a bit, World Vision gets close to a quarter-BILLION dollars a year to hire only Christians of acceptable theology. A former VP, Andrew Natsios, became Administrator of USAID, which parcelled out most of this quarter-BILLION dollars, and World Vision’s president is to be on Obama’s board of advisors. No conflict of interest, is there.In contrast, while they may prefer adherents to their faith stream, which is understandable enough, other organizations such as Catholic Relief Services and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency explicitly have no problem with looking for the best available talent to help with government-funded programs. For some organizations, their desire to get the best available talent applies broadly to service programs, and not just those that are funded by taxpayers, e.g.: “Those employees of ADRA who are recruited but not members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church are expected to accept the Seventh-day Adventist philosophy of humanitarian service and practice a lifestyle compatible with ADRA policies and Seventh-day Adventist beliefs.”And many, many, MANY “faith-based” organizations had no problems getting taxpayer-funded programs on the same non-discriminatory basis as other organizations, long long LONG before the imposition of a “faith-based” office that is probably continuing to make George Washington and Thomas Jefferson spin in their graves.

  • sophie2

    It’s worth a try, I think. I am strong believer in the separation of church and state, but I have also been a part of an intense, inclusive, empowering faith-based community action network. Remember, Saul Alinsky used churches for community organization. Can someone articulate a framework that would allow our communities to harness the wonderful charitable impulses that come from worshipping a god or gods or the spaghetti monster in a way that doesn’t threaten the secular nature of our government? It’s certainly worth a try. And it has never been tried, since it certainly wasn’t the goal of the Bush adminitration.

  • semidouble

    As a tax payer I resent the fact that billions are given to organizations that sell an invisible product. They are all tax exempt and use our tax money to brainwash the unfortunate. I resent that

  • lagwagon777

    Pretty good blog. Maybe someone can help me, though. I want to find the blog that takes a daily look at the news and what we do under Zeus.Thanks

  • COWENS99

    It’s federal or government money to be used equally by all. To allow any discrimination is a disgrace.

  • whitetrash4u

    I do not require a religion or a religious organization to be a good person, donate money to charity or donate time and labor to assist someone in need. That’s simply my being an empathetic human with a conscience. Why cannot the religious community raise their own funds to do their missions? If the government is to be involved in charity work at all, then it should be completely secular. Let the preachers get on TV and squeeze the faithful for cash, take their cut off the top to pay for their jet plane, and then use the rest of the money to do some token, yet highly visible, act of charity. If action for an obvious need must be filtered through specifically imposed channels, then the charity is diminished.

  • koremori

    Religious institutions, with very good reason, worry about state aid being used as a wedge by secularists to forcibly secularize charitable religious institutions. To proceed with their agenda of destroying the Christian voice in the public square.Churches have been in the business of charity for a millennium or two longer than the state. In fact, they are rather good at it. Without a spiritual component, the broken life of an alcoholic, an addict, an ex-convict cannot be fixed. Obama knows this. So do minorities who, as we saw under Prop 8, have no use whatsoever for latte liberal secularists or their agenda.In embodying the values of his minority voting base Obama is chosing to side with the mainstream of the American people (as he did over Pastor Warren), to build a majority Democratic Party based on economic populism instead of a narrow, coastal party based on cultural elite lifestyles.

  • bucbur

    YES, WE CAN’T!

  • q0j0p

    It is the government’s interest to help communities in need in the most efficient way. If in fact churches are really good at helping communities in need, then it is only right that the government would want to back them up. I believe it was the government that needed help more than the church needed government money.

  • iamweaver

    Hillman writes:”Many organizations, including the Salvation Army (for example) have a history of telling gays, atheists, and others that they must ‘accept Christ’ before they can receive services.”This is untrue. There is absolutely no faith requirement on the part of a recipient of SA services. In fact, their mission statement makes it clear that they not only assist, but work with, persons of varying faiths throughout the world (their mission statements do not directly address atheism, but blanket statements of this type rarely do). I an sure if you visit their website, you will find the same information.Keep in mind that the SA is a highly structured, hierarchical group, so if you personally have run into particular SA missions that have violated their own ground rules, be sure to notify their superior officers of their violation.On another topic:”Proselytizing as an integral part of providing social services is designed specifically to denigrate gays, people of other religions, etc.”Proselytizing. Denigrating. Interesting word choices, with implications that are often not there. If by “proselytizing”, you mean “these activities sometimes take place in a church social hall, where there is information about Jesus/Allah/The Spaghetti Monster”, then… I guess you are right. There may be places where the proselytizing is more evangelical and in-your-face, even pushed as a high-pressure sales pitch, but my experiences dealing with (mostly ecumenical) faith-based programs in the Northern Virginia and Eastern West Virginia areas tends to be the former rather than the latter – because the latter is pretty ineffective, and what’s more, for Christians, many feel that it’s against the core of the founder’s teachings.I am unsure where you are going with “denigrate” – unless you mean that if anyone anywhere ever espouses a view, they are denigrating someone else’s by default. That might be able to fit into the dictionary definition of the word – maybe. But normal word usage implies a deliberate and active attempt to belittle another’s beliefs or actions.One point that at least two posters have mentioned here that you seem to be ignoring. There are many branches of the Christian church that are not only accepting of gays, but actively supportive of them (take a look at the current schism in the Episcopal church).

  • TerryLakeGeorge

    I am a street minister who does not discriminate against anyone regardless of belief, non-belief,race, color of their skin, gender or sexual orientation. Drug users are welcome. Prostitutes are welcome. Homeless are welcome. People of faith and people without faith are welcome. The only thing that is unwelcome is federal funds! You see, each person who crosses my path needs to be handled by a case by case method. God forbid that I may utter a prayer for someone dying in the street while there are federal funds in my pocket. Let the Church rise up and be the Church. The good news is that the Church has enough money to do all the mission that is needed to be accomplished. The bad news is that it remains in the wallets of its members.

  • HillMan

    “This is untrue. There is absolutely no faith requirement on the part of a recipient of SA services. “Not true. Nondiscrimination may be in their ‘mission statement’ or other lofty rhetoric, but the reality on the street is often quite different.My own sister was once lectured by SA because she married a black man. This, while she was trying to volunteer for them.And my own brother, a SA recipient, says he was routinely told that he had to essentially claim to be a Christian to get services.

  • HillMan

    “I am unsure where you are going with “denigrate” – unless you mean that if anyone anywhere ever espouses a view, they are denigrating someone else’s by default.”I mean when the services (food, shelter, etc.) come with being forced to listen to proselytizing lectures and admonitions on everything from the evils of not being a particular Christian persuasion to the ‘gays are going to hell’ speech.This is not unknown in the religious social service field.

  • HillMan

    “I am a street minister who does not discriminate against anyone regardless of belief, non-belief,race, color of their skin, gender or sexual orientation. Drug users are welcome. Prostitutes are welcome. Homeless are welcome.”That is wonderful and inspirational.I wish you great success in your ministry.

  • iamweaver

    Hillman writes:And my own brother, a SA recipient, says he was routinely told that he had to essentially claim to be a Christian to get services.”At the risk of sounding pedantic – this is AGAINST the rules that the SA runs under. Be sure to notify superior officers of these issues.But more importantly, this is against the law. Again – at the risk of sounding pedantic, this is AGAINST THE LAW.Any faith-based group receiving Federal funding may discriminate in its hiring practices, and the particular services that it provides, but it may not discriminate against the recipients of the services it offers.Your argument is fallacious. Law-breakers don’t make a bad law.

  • HillMan

    “I am unsure where you are going with “denigrate” – unless you mean that if anyone anywhere ever espouses a view, they are denigrating someone else’s by default. That might be able to fit into the dictionary definition of the word – maybe. But normal word usage implies a deliberate and active attempt to belittle another’s beliefs or actions.”I’ve seen it in action, especially toward gay people. It is deliberate. There’s simply no need to tell someone in need of food or housing that, sure, you’ll give it to them, but by the way they are dirty, evil sinners and will surely rot in hell.

  • HillMan

    “At the risk of sounding pedantic – this is AGAINST the rules that the SA runs under. Be sure to notify superior officers of these issues.”My brother complained as loudly as he could. It did no good. All it actually did was get him a reputation as an ‘ungrateful recipient’.Did he, a homeless guy, contact SA headquarters? Probably not. But he did all he could at the local level.This was in three different cities, which indicates to me it’s a widespread problem.

  • forgetthis

    David Waters wrote: Will the pastor of First Megachurch of Houston be given federal tax dollars to provide drug counseling for deadbeat dads while preaching and practicing discrimination against homosexuals or atheists or illegal aliens?————————

  • US-conscience

    Jesus never took federal funds ( he in fact paid taxes ) and he never discriminated: anyone, muslim, jew, roman, theif, prostitute…anyone could be saved by simply turning from their sins ( repenting ) and putting their faith for forgiveness in Him. He still doesnt discriminate.

  • HillMan

    “Your argument is fallacious. Law-breakers don’t make a bad law.”Actually, under Bush it was understood that proselytizing like this was acceptable even if you get federal funds.

  • iamweaver

    “Actually, under Bush it was understood that proselytizing like this was acceptable even if you get federal funds.”I care less what was “understood”. While I agree on you completely regarding the potential for “hard-sell” evangelizing during a faith-based program (it’s one of the reasons that I am a fence-sitter), it is against the law to actually discriminate against a recipient. Plain and simple, written into law, enforceable by a court of law, and clearly constitutional (that side of the initiative).

  • LiveBlueForever

    These programs should all be banned. It should have never went into effect under Bush, Obama should now end it. While it may have good intentions and no one is denying that the work being done is good, it violates the separation of church and state (at least in spirit if not letter) and is not what America has done for over two centuries. Furthermore, when a religious group takes money from the feds one has to wonder where their faith in God is for His provision of their cause.

  • tpagotie

    This is a slippery slope to go down. How much power and influence is this going have in the political process when it comes to elections, policies and the distribution tax dollars? Will this be the start of a religious war over money and power in this country? Who is to determine what a faith based church is and how much money they will get?

  • NeedToKnow

    I fear these organizations will go the way of past large monied organizations – corruption. Money corrupts.

  • CCNL

    The US taxpayers should demand that these faith-groups delete the historic and theological flaws in their religions before we give them any more money.

  • morryb

    Faith is pure and simply endoctrination. Every faith endoctrinates its young to believe in superstitious and primitive myths. Faith is belief by authority, something that rational people will not accept.

  • italianboy

    “Who is to determine what a faith based church is and how much money they will get?”Faith-based organizations have to compete with all other organizations in the same competitive application process. The government solicits applications for a project with specific goals and requirements. Organizations submit their applications and are reviewed, graded, and awarded agreements based on the technical strength of their application, ability to implement, and track record. Projects are audited and in many cases independently evaluated. Discrimination against beneficiaries based on race, religion, and gender is illegal, as is proselytizing.Organizations that partner with the U.S. government, however, are not part of the government; they are independent. They should be allowed to hire staff that reflect their vision, tenets, and strengths. All organizations that are provided funding by the U.S. government, including faith-based organizations, should be held to account for the quality and integrity of the services they provide.