When the Salvation Army enlists in the government

By David Waters Churches and other faith-based organizations that receive government funds, beware. In an agreement that will be enforced … Continued

By David Waters

Churches and other faith-based organizations that receive government funds, beware. In an agreement that will be enforced by a federal court, government agencies in New York have agreed to monitor the Salvation Army to ensure that it doesn’t impose religion on the people its serves through its tax-funded social services.

The agreement just effects the Salvation Army’s social work in New York, but it’s more than a cautionary tale for religious groups in this era of government-backed faith-based initiatives. “With this settlement, government is watching out,” co-counsel Deborah Karpatkin of the N.Y. Civil Liberties Union said in a statement. “It will not fund religious organizations to proselytize to recipients of government-funded social services.”

The agreement highlights one of the issues that is vexing President Obama’s faith advisory council: Should the government require houses of worship to form separate, secular nonprofit corporations to receive tax dollars to pay for social services? Obama’s council was unable to reach consensus, voting 13-12 that there should be such a requirement.

(UPDATE: Closer monitoring of faith-based funds is one of the recommendations of Obama’s faith advisory council: “To guard against inappropriate uses of Federal funds, the Government must monitor and enforce the constitutional, statutory, and regulatory standards that follow social service funds.” Read the full report here.)

The agreement also raises interesting questions about what it means to be the church.

Using government funds seems to prohibit a church from talking about Jesus, or passing out written religious messages, but does it prevent anyone connected with a government-backed faith-based group from acting like Jesus?

The Salvation Army is a Christian denomination whose stated mission is “to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.” In its efforts to meet those human needs, the Army operates nonprofit agencies, including Social Services for Children in New York. About 95 percent of SSC’s $50 million budget comes from government funds to provide social services for more than 2,000 children in New York.

In 2003, the church announced a “Reorganization Plan” to ensure that “a reasonable number of Salvationists along with other Christians (will be employed at SSC) because the Army is not a social agency but a Christian movement with a social service program.”

Good for the church. It shouldn’t subject its mission to government approval, no matter how much money the government offers. To reemphasize its work as a church, the Army began requiring SSC workers to disclose their church affiliation and church attendance, and to sign an endorsement of the Salvation Army’s mission to “preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Turns out, that wasn’t a problem for the federal court. Federal and state laws “permit religious organizations to advance their religious missions by discriminating on the basis of religion in employment,” U.S. Dist. Judge Sidney H. Stein ruled in 2005 after the NYCLU sued The Salvation Army for religious discrimination.

But the NYCLU also claimed that the Army was violating the Constitution by imposing religion on children who were being served with tax dollars, not church dollars. According to court documents, the Salvation Army’s practices included a confirmation-like ceremony with prayers and Bibles for 9-year-olds in its government-funded foster care program.

The judge didn’t approve of that. “Government aid to religious organizations may not be diverted to religious purposes,” the judge wrote.

So now the Salvation Army has to sublimate its religious purpose to fulfill its religious purpose. Or does it? Aren’t there ways to “preach the gospel” and “meet human needs” without proselytizing? To act like Jesus rather than talk about him?

About

  • mmurphy8

    Please help us identify how the fortune given to nonprofits when Blue Cross sold how – how save are being used?

  • mmurphy8

    how same are being used

  • cprferry

    Luckily this is already the case for the many Christian non-profits whose very faith traditions recognize grace and faith comes from God and not by force and believe that peoples’ understanding of God, grace and faith comes from the relief of suffering and acts of charity.

  • cprferry

    Or, I should add provide cover for the calling of resources and people to be transferred to organizations owned by opponents of faith-based initiatives that may seek greater profits, political power or ability to proselytize or demean the dignity of those merely seeking relief of suffering.

  • Ex-MinisterBrian

    I have personally worked in Rescue Missions as a former Christian minister. I get very irritated whenever secular sources theoretically step in between people of need and those trying to satisfy that need! If secular minded folks are so concerned….build your own shelters and soup kitchens! This is nothing more than political posturing that serves to thwart the common good!Perhaps I’m the only secular advocate that challenges what I consider to be a weak arguementation against faith based initiatives. I think those in opposition have short-sighted secular biases that frankly I would love to publically debate and expose. I have addressed a portion of this issue at my website…funny but those same folks that love to question everything suddenly don’t have an answer!

  • chatard

    David Waters is brilliant, isn’t he? He thinks separation of church and state has to do with Jesus. He doesn’t want to talk about Allah, or Mohammed, or Bhudda, or Confucius, just Jesus. And David worries about the Salvation Army “Imposing religion”religion on somebody?? David says you can act like Jesus without talking about him. Brilliant David. “Look over there! Juanita is acting like a prophet who lived 2,000 years ago! Isn’t she wonderful!” What’s the name of the prophet?” “Can’t say, but trust me, she’s acting like it!”

  • larmoecurl

    “To act like Jesus rather than talk about him?”Why is helping people “acting like Jesus” and not just doing the right thing? Why do Christians always believe that doing the right thing depends on their dogma? Why are they this selfish?

  • mejane

    I want NONE of my tax dollars to go to faith-based institutions, programs, etc. If you want to give your money to them, do so. I don’t want to, and my wishes should be respected by my government.

  • cassie123

    My thoughts:

  • beckley1

    Aren’t there ways to “preach the gospel” and “meet human needs” without proselytizing? The answer is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.”

  • YEAL9

    “Effect of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Faith-Based Applicants for GrantsIf your organization is a faith-based organization that makes hiring decisions on the basis of religious belief, it may be entitled, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, to receive federal funds and yet maintain that hiring practice, even if the law creating the funding program contains a general ban on religious discrimination in employment. For the circumstances under which this may occur, and the certifications that may be required by the Department of Justice, please see the “Effect of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Faith-Based Applicants for Grants.” For a fuller discussion of the issue, please see the Memorandum Opinion for the General Counsel, Office of Justice Programs, dated June 29, 2007. “

  • kenk3

    Its impossible to justify the Federal Government subcontracting their responsibilities to churches and faith based organizations.Cutting checks to churches justifies the overthrow of the US Government as we know it.

  • ZZim

    Well, Kenk, good thing that charity isn’t one of the Federal Government’s responsibilities. The Govt. needs to get out of the charity business since it doesn’t belong there in the first place.

  • lufrank1

    Thomas Jefferson wisely warned us, but Christians have been the most numerous and entrenched of any religion since the Birth of the Nation. During my childhood (1930′s and 40′s) no one would have blinked at the Salvation Army’s or Catholic’s or any other Christian charity proselytize as they provide succor.

  • ZZim

    Aren’t there ways to “preach the gospel” and “meet human needs” without proselytizing? “Conditional love,” excellent observation. One of the destructive aspects of when government takes over the charity business is that conditional love is thrown out. Unconditional aid and assistance is terribly un-healthy and socially destructive. Twisting charitable assistance into some sort of “right” is one of the worst problems modern society has.

  • paris1969

    It is inherently wrong to use taxpayer dollars for religious proselytizing. It is robbing the ethics of our nation to force people to support religions that they are opposed to.

  • ZZim

    Without taking issue with that, I wasn’t talking about unconditional assistance, or suggesting that charity be treated as a right. I would agree in principle that some ways of providing charity may cause harm to people or communities. But I was criticizing the attitude that something is wrong with people who don’t share the religious group’s beliefs, that the people need to be “fixed.” I’m talking about the specific condition where the group has the advance agenda of trying to change the clients’ beliefs.=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-I don’t think I agree with you, Carstonio. Proselytizing can be harmful or helpful, depending on the beliefs being peddled. Some beliefs are probably pretty harmless. I imagine the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster would neither be able to hurt or help anyone, regardless of how aggressively they peddled their beliefs.The problem is, of course, that there is no centralized control over what beliefs get proselytized. Suppose that the faith-based social services initiative were placed under the control of the Bureau of Official Opinions (“BOO”), which decided which beliefs charities are permitted to peddle while performing social services with government funds. BOO would then decide which beliefs are secular and good (drinking too much is bad for your complexion) and which beliefs are religious and bad (thou shalt avoid the demon rum). Oops, BOO sounds like an established religion to me. I say we cancel the whole idea and get the government out of the charity business altogether.May you walk forever in the shadow of His noodly appendages, Ramen.

  • YEAL9

    From the Department of Commerce:”Is there money set aside for Faith-Based Organizations?Answer:No. The Federal government does not set aside a separate funding stream specifically for faith-based groups. Rather, they are eligible to apply for government grants on an equal basis with other similar non-governmental organizations.”"What are the rules for the use of Federal funding by faith-based organizations?Answer:Grant funds may not be used for inherently religious activities such as worship, prayer, proselytizing, or devotional Bible study. The funds are to be used to further the objectives established by Congress such as creating the conditions for economic growth and prosperity.A faith-based organization should take steps to ensure that its inherently religious activities, such as religious worship or instruction are separate–in time or location–from the government-funded services that it offers. However, you may use space in your church, synagogue, mosque, or other place of worship to provide Federally-funded services. In addition, there is no need to remove religious symbols from these rooms. You may also keep your organization’s name even if it includes religious words, and you may include religious references in your organization’s mission statements. If you have any questions or doubts, you should check with the official who administers your Federal funds.”

  • skipsailing28

    Time for me to sound even more like a short wave radio listening crank.there is a dynamic here that is very disturbing. It is clear to me that Obama will tax everything he can imagine. he will work hard to structure the tax code such that “charity” is replaced by government dollars.when that happens the folks in DC get to decide who gets what when and under what circumstances.In addition when one looks at the track record of expensive government programs one sees failure. People are mired in poverty now for no other reason than their dependance on government handouts.So the threat to religion in America is clear: when taxes are enormously high, as they will be with Barry O’s administration, the disposable income available for charitable giving will decline. Replacing effective private efforts with ineffective, inefficient government programs will damage our society and eliminate one of the foundational pillars of our strength.And for what? so that people like carstonio can feel righteous? wow. An entire society based on godless nihilism would be good for no one yet the sophistry lace arguments against a strong place for religion in American life carry on unabated.We are, IMHO, failing as a society because we have turned our backs on God.

  • pjohn2

    Posted by: EmmetropeIf you “act like Jesus” people that you help will learn to do the same even without you telling them that’s what you are doing. I don’t think Jesus took government money to help the needy.

  • skipsailing28

    it is simple carstonio. On every thread of this ilk you’re on the side opposite religion.That’s where I come up with this stuff.

  • Jennifer22

    I am totally against the government giving money to charities – no matter how wonderful these charities are. Under Bush we were moving towards a state religion. I don’t think most people realize how far the previous administration went. Millions of dollars were transferred away from poor people and channeled to churches who then used the money to run marriage counseling for middle class recipients and making the counseling firms wealthy on our dime. By the way, how many people did Salvation Army fire because of their religion (Jewish and Catholic) and sexual orientation? No! NO tax dollars for discrimination and stae religion.

  • Catken1

    “I get very irritated whenever secular sources theoretically step in between people of need and those trying to satisfy that need!”And I get very irritated when religious sources try to justify their forcing their faith on vulnerable people by saying that at least they’re “satisfying their needs”. The mean side of me hopes that if you’re ever in need of food or shelter, the only charity available requires you to pray five times a day in Arabic, in the direction of Mecca, and to affirm that Muhammed is the prophet of God. You wouldn’t have to accept their help, mind you. You could sleep outside in the snow and go hungry. But that’s OK, right? They’re trying to help, so they have the right to coerce you to go against your own religious beliefs in favor of theirs. It’s poor people’s own fault they’re poor, after all, right? No one ever has a financial or health catastrophe that isn’t of their own making.Oh, and if you needed medical help, you’d get intrusive and personal questions designed to make sure that all your reproductive and sexual choices agreed with their religion. No choosing a wife they disapprove of, or having more or fewer children than they allow, or acting as if your body was your own property.”An entire society based on godless nihilism would be good for no one yet the sophistry lace arguments against a strong place for religion in American life carry on unabated.”Actually, those countries who are less publicly and privately religious are also those where the poor tend to be better cared for, where health care is readily available for all, etc., etc., etc.

  • DouginMoz

    For those that are concerned about faith-based initiatives and the amounts of tax funded dollars that they are receiving; perhaps what you should be concerned with is the loss of charitable dollars that to varying degrees supplement, match or overwhelm the tax revenues given in order to provide for the recipients of the organization.Why does/did the government use faith-based initiatives in the first place? Of course, we could allow the government to do it all for us. We wouldn’t have to get personal with the recipients – just let our tax dollars be the connection. It would demand professionals with heavy caseloads and several layers of government oversight committees, with government salaries, demanding higher taxes to support a burgeoning bureaucracy. But hey! At least they wouldn’t be proselytizing people.

  • cprferry

    “Well, Kenk, good thing that charity isn’t one of the Federal Government’s responsibilities. The Govt. needs to get out of the charity business since it doesn’t belong there in the first place.As a Christian and worker in the non-profit world, I can’t help but agree.It’s one thing to regulate NFPs or to study their programs, it’s another to make them dependent upon the grants and their endless, confusing rules that increase administrative and support service costs and help undermine effective service.However, such a strategy would serve to a detriment these organizations and the poor without additional changes to the tax code and the appropriations process in Washington and local government. We need to get back to promoting and allowing for charity, not funding and directing charity.

  • onthejourney

    Why the issue?

  • cprferry

    Carstonio wants:You’d be happy to know that existing OMB circulars ensure all those things. (Although it’s iffy on the last part – understandably because the employees also funded by other sources as well or serve in other capacities or are drawn from and hired from a selective pool faithful to the organization’s mission just as in the case of any organization or business.)You’d also be happy to know that the religious beliefs of many faiths, particular the Jewish and Christians, uphold all those ideals. In the Christian tradition, it is believed that faith can not be forced upon someone, but it is a gift from God to which we are called to consciously know as well as provide the opportunity to know. As such organizations find value in secular programs that work and do not see them as competition but partners in serving man. This also relates to #2. To some, they find it pastorally appropriate to utilize preaching. Fully respecting that it is a opportunity to share and call forth people to act upon their own conscious to listen, understand and follow, not to force them. Many organizations don’t proselytize. Especially those involved with social justice and social services often believe the opportunity comes through love, charity and the removing of ones’ afflictions to allow them to see love, charity and God in the world. I stand firmly with the latter, but don’t necessarily think you can get around some preaching in social services all the time. Many secular organizations often can’t avoid their own form of preaching.Also, the faithful will never turn down a neighbor in need. That’s a large part of their mission and why they’re already involved in social services. However, some services and some statements are precluded should they are go against their conscious of the service provider. (See recent DC City Council controversy.)

  • Gondola1

    Interesting that Christian conservatives are so insistent that none of their tax money fund abortion, but have no problem using my tax money to fund religious organizations who espouse views contrary to my own. Would they have a different view if, say, tax money was going a radial Muslim humanitarian project?

  • Carstonio

    DougInMoz,We can’t assume that a government charity program would automatically be inefficient. Nor we can assume that a faith-based charity would be efficient. Another concern is whether the charity would show favorable treatment to clients who share its beliefs. Few would claim that the Baptist missionaries in Haiti deliberately intended to kidnap kids for some nefarious purpose. It was probably a combination of religious zealotry and cultural bias leading them to simply assume that the kids needed to be rescued from a “heathen” culture.About why the faith-based program exists, Bush was using the charity approach when he was governor of Texas, for counseling programs of prison inmates. With both this and the national initiative, it would be hard to criticize the intention to help people. But Bush’s intentions are questionable with both programs, since these were heavily focused on fundamentalist Christians charities. It gave the impression that the programs were really political patronage, something that numerous politicians in both parties have practiced.

  • ZZim

    This is a problem. We need to fix it by getting the government out of the charity business altogether. If people want to keep starving children off the street, they should do it with private funds, not public funds.We can’t let religion-rooted charitable impulses infect our secular government.

  • csintala79

    It is hard for religious charities to be trusted to not proselytize. As a young sailor (during the Vietnam era) on leave in Washington, D.C, I heard about a place where they were giving free lunch to servicemen. It sounded pretty good, so I and a couple of buddies searched out and found the location. The food was set up on a table in the middle of a large auditorium. The lunch consisted of deviled ham on stale white bread and Kool-aid. It wasn’t that appetizing, but it was free, so who could complain. Well, the food wasn’t exactly free. As we came close to finishing our meal, we heard the double doors to the hall slam shut, and someone said in a loud voice, “OK boys, time for the sermon,” or something to that effect. To pay for our meal we had to sit through a 20 minute sermon. Sorry, but being led into being preached to by deceit is wrong. Instead of charity, the servants of God were “paying” or obligating us to hear their spiel. In consonance with the Law of Unintended consequences, such duplicity probably turned away more potential converts than they brought into the fold. such More often than not the “charity” of religious groups comes with strings attached. It is a well know fact that many Christian orphanages in developing countries take in children only if they accept conversion. India has a serious problem today in the Goa area due to this. The history of the spread of Christianity has been that of missionaries following right on the heels of invading conquerors and aiding devastated indigenous communities, but at a price; to get the help of these servants of God, the natives had to give up their own religions and customs. This is not charity.

  • skealh

    Does no one see the irony in throttling the very faith that makes faith-based organizations effective? That gives them the motivation to serve in the darkest corners of society where others won’t bother to dirty their hands? Contrary to what seems a prevailing view, posturing about neeting social needs and genuine action are not the same thing.By and large, faith serves the common good. Fine that government should not establish religion – we do not need state religious institutions – but neither should it hinder the leavening good of faith in our society.

  • Emmetrope

    1. The Salvation Army has tons of funds from the Ray Kroc/McDonald’s Restaurant fortune. 2. Bush lost for Republicans the 1st day it occurred to people that hurricane Katrina response was a good job (Browny). When is comes to helping people in needed, the government, the association that includes all Americans is the best user of collective tax dollars despite the old joke; We’ve been appointed to these politcal positions by Republicans; we’re here to help.

  • usapdx

    Can church be state? NO! IT TIME TO ENFORCE THE CURRENT LAW OF TAX EXAMPT AS WELL AS REWRITE IT REQUIRE ALL THAT CLAIM TAX EXAMPT ALSO FILE TAX AND CLAIM THEIR GROUP’S CLAIM OF TAX EXAMPT ON THE IRS 1040 FORM SO THAT THE IRS KNOW THEIR INCOME OF THE GIVEN YEAR AND CAN REQUIRE THEM TO PAY TAX IF THEY VIOLATED THE TAX EXAMPT RULES. TOTAL FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN THE USA REQUIRES TO FULLY PAY YOUR JUST TAX.

  • Emmetrope

    I have personally worked in Rescue Missions as a former Christian minister. I get very irritated whenever secular sources theoretically step in between people of need and those trying to satisfy that need! If secular minded folks are so concerned….build your own shelters and soup kitchens! This is nothing more than political posturing that serves to thwart the common good!

  • Carstonio

    I see no constitutional problem with faith charities getting government money, as long as three conditions are met:1. The government doesn’t discriminate among the faith charities, or doesn’t discriminate between faith and secular charities.2. The faith charities don’t use the money to proselytize.3. The faith charities don’t discriminate in providing services and in hiring employees.

  • gfm1983

    “The agreement just effects [sic] the Salvation Army’s social work…”It’s called the English language. Look into it.

  • Alex511

    fr whistling:>…And the SA better be careful, from now on, when it goes to set up coffee, etc., at some fire or flood, that nobody they help on the street is a Jew.Or a gay person. The SA won’t employ glbt’s, so my wife and I do NOT support them.

  • cornbread_r2

    it is simple carstonio. On every thread of this ilk you’re on the side opposite religion.

    I have to defend carstonio. IMO, he/she is amazingly consistent in

  • skipsailing28

    carstonio I’m simply not buying your sophistry. I’ve seen too much of it.The simple fact is, as I stated, in any discussion of religion in American life you’ll be on the side opposing religion.

  • ZZim

    Can we allow them to peddle the belief that “getting stinko drunk on the rent money and beating your wife is bad?”The question is, who decides what beliefs can be taught? If the charity operates a women’s shelter and teaches the women that God wants them to return to their husbands, is that bad? If the same charity teaches them that God loves them and doesn’t want them to be beaten, is that bad? Or can the charity only teach them that Penal Code Section 5A.10096 (a)(ii) says that “one co-habitant may not use undue force in a situation in which said force is undue due to the not-necessary nature of the incurring event based on eventualitative severity of regarding entenuations… etc.”

  • skipsailing28

    carstonio I disagree with your fundamental assertion that first amendment discussions are not about chosing sides. Perhaps your belief in this misguided position provides you some measure of comfort but I’m not buying it.Why not stop trying to have it both ways and face it: you are consistently antagonistic toward faith and people who profess that faith. Cloak it however you find convenient but don’t expect the folks who read your comments here to agree with you.

  • tmcproductions2004

    “faith based organizations”? Sounds like they are taxpayer based to me.Anyone who has dealt with these organizations knows how they operate–hand and hand with the politicians who legislated all that taxpayer money to them. I no longer frequent any faith based organizations because they are all paid shills for the gop and tin-foil hat people.

  • blasmaic

    This sounds like government trying to piggy-back on religious people in order to save costs. Everyone knows that a religous person who is motivated by religious faith will likely do more work than a person who is doing a job. Yet the government wants to receive all the advantages of having religious people do the work while prohibiting them from being religious people.

  • Revcain777

    Years ago I was dirt poor, nothing to eat, homeless. The Salvation Army took care of me and got me back on my feet. If they want to get excited over Mr. Jesus….fine with me!

  • cornbread_r2

    Why not stop trying to have it both ways and face it: you [carstonio] are consistently antagonistic toward faith and people who profess that faith. Cloak it however you find convenient but don’t expect the folks who read your comments here to agree with you. Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 23, 2010 3:03 PM 1. If what you allege is true, it should be pathetically easy to provide evidence for your assertion. My dollars to donuts wager stands.2. You don’t speak for me.3. How do you account for the

  • mradams

    Discriminating and harming innocent gay and lesbian people is not, has never been, and never will be the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • spidermean2

    What ACLU should do is make their own charity organization and see if it works using their godless principles.Im not so sure how much would remain for the children after paying the salaries of their workers.Stupidity is self-destructive and the ACLU are morons in action.

  • spidermean2

    Carstonio should read about American history to know how the First Amendment took shape. It was established to protect the persecuted evangelical Christians from government abuses.The ACLU is now using the same law to persecute the religious people thru the government.The idiots in the early days of America are here again.

  • NeverLeft

    Leave it to the Leftists to bewail the hundreds of thousands of people served by the Salvation Army while they themselves never do anything for anyone (except try to tell them how to spend what others have earned).Typical.

  • enough3

    My wife and I gave generously to the Salvation Army for many years, as did my conservative 93 year old father-in-law. They were/are doing good work and it wasn’t glamourous, and indeed charitable. But as the religious Christian right became more outrageous, political and strident about the Christian evangelizing part of their faith, we stopped giving, as did my father-in-law. Conservatives should be very clear about where their loyalties lie; the Constitution clearly requires the separation of church and state. And if they want no taxpayer money used for abortions then they should also understand that no taxpayer money should be used for religious activities. Period. The problem with most modern day conservatives is that they are inconsistent, hypocritical, have divided loyalties and flexible principles, and little respect for the beliefs of people who disagree with them. Afterall, beliefs are beliefs and not facts, despite the arrogance which lets them transform their belief in such frequently modified books as the Bible into facts and God’s principles. There are many books that explain how dubious the factual contents of the Bible are, being translated between various Aramaic texts, Greek, Latin and other languages by various flawed humans over the last few thousand years, including some and eliminating others into a compilation. And today there is the new American project – the Conservative Bible – to again alter the text of the Bible. It’s all so foolish and disastrous for determining what Jesus really stood for, and he certainly did not beleieve in the terrible things so many modern “Christians” believe in.

  • stephenlouis

    “Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.” – Francesco d’Assisi

  • jckdoors

    There should not be any government money going to churches or faith-based organizations. Period.

  • gimpi

    Skipsailing28,I’m sorry you were offended. I took your use of the “short-wave radio listening crank” and played it back as a sort of literary devise. Since you had tossed it out, I didn’t think you would take offense. I apologize if you did.Now, to your points. President Obama’s “agnosticism” aside, no massive tax increases have been proposed. Adjustments, changes in exemptions, yes, but no wholesale increases. I am concerned that obsessing about scary fantasies can lead to bad places. Considering the fellow who just crashed a plane into an IRS office in Texas, I don’t think that fear is unfounded. I only offered opinions because that was all I read in your post. If you want to offer facts, I would be happy to address them. Social Security and Medicare are facing demographic bubbles that are difficult to overcome, it’s true, both those are due to the Baby Boom. After the boomers have passed on to their reward, things should be sustainable. We have many options to get through this bubble. We just need to explore them honestly. Of course some governmental programs are corrupt. HUD is notorious for kickbacks and such. I fully support fixing them. I am interested in what works. Have you looked into the public housing in Italy? In India’s new healthcare program? In Germany’s old-age pension system? I think there are good ideas all over the world. I don’t embrace or reject them out of hand because they are “socialist,” or “not the way we do things.” I also don’t embrace or reject things based on political or religious dogma. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I get the feeling you do.I don’t feel I sneered at God. I really feel I am not corresponding with God. I am corresponding with you. Perhaps your faith is so much a part of you that you don’t see that. I don’t really even know what you believe. As to God in daily life, I’m glad God is part of your life. I just don’t see why you need to have the government, society, the law, whatever, tout your superiority. You are correct in that I don’t want the law to endorse any religion as better than any other. Do you?What faith “led us to greatness?” The U.S. has always been pluralistic. Or aren’t you aware of the difference between the beliefs of Quakers and Puritans? The beliefs of enslaved Africans and the Natives? And greatness? We have accomplished great things, and done terrible things over the course of our history, and according to believers, God was on the side of both the great and terrible.By “…missed points for condescension.” I’m not sure if you feel I was condescending or not. If I seemed condescending, again, I apologize. It wasn’t my intent. I don’t share your view of how the world works, but I respect your right to your opinion. However, in your first post, it did not seem to be presented as an opinion.

  • skipsailing28

    hey GIMPIHas Obama discussed reducing the exemption for charitable giving? Why yes he has.Is he “agnostic” about tax increases? Why yes he is. What does that mean to you and I? More taxes if he has his way.Where is the support for your “opinion” concerning America’s private charities? Gosh, no link, no facts, nothing but your opinion. Oh that and some de rigeur liberal sneering. No liberal rant is complete without it. You missed points for condescencion though. Perhaps you should look into that.The effectiveness of government programs is clear to those of us who live in the real world. SS cannot sustain itself. Neither can medicare or medicaid. How is that effective? What’s the ratio of working stiffs to non producers in America today? What will it be in ten, twenty, thirty years? See my point?Oh and how about those other bastions of liberal failure: TANF and section 8? I don’t know where you live sonny but I live in the ‘hood. What I see is permanent poverty brought to us by welfare dependency.All these liberal transfer schemes have some common factors: (1) they rely on the ability to confiscate money from hard working, law abiding citizens. (2) They rely on this money to impose behavioral norms on the ultimate recipient. (3) They outlive whatever usefulness they might have once had. (4) Like vampires, they are extremely difficult to kill.Now let me respond to your sneer about God. My comment has nothing to do with myself. I am proud of my faith and I stand up for it in places like this frequently. My comment relates to the trends in our society that make it clear to me (and many others) that we have abandonned the faith that helped us to greatness. That you want to personalize this merely displays your unwillingness to engage in a debate about God in our daily lives. Or that you don’t want to discuss the role that faith played in our founding and our path to greatness.Shame on you for that. Again, you missed points for condescencion. I suggest that you read Joe Klein’s diatribe, found at the following link, at least thirty times. That will provide you with insight into how a true sneering cynical liberal goes about insulting the people with whom he disagrees:surely you can take lessons from a self indentified master of the genre, right?Have a great day pal.

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