Bush's Faith Based Initiative, a (perhaps) unconsidered perspective

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I have read, in a few posts over the past few months, many different opinions of GW's proposed faith based initiative (whereby religeous organizations could recieve government funding to assist with their humanitarian ministries). While I remain reservedly ambivilent about the concept personally, I do have something to point out that I do not think a majority of the initiative's supporters have considered.

Quite a few of what most people would call "religeous right-wingers" (presumably conservative Christians) are ecstatic over the concept of their (and everyone else's) tax dollars going to support the ministries of church-type, or religeon-based, humanitarian ministries. In order for this to work constitutionally, the organizations could not use this money to "push" their religeon on the recipients of their aid. I believe, although I could be mistaken, that although gvt funds could not be used to print up prayers and texts, that such (printed with private funds) could be, for example, placed at a table where folks are eating gvt. funded food, in a gvt. funded building. If they are uninterested in the message, they could simply ignore the message. I don't believe that someone orating such texts during the meal would be allowed, as this would be "unaboidable" by the participants. Some people argue that this seperation of church and state is nearly impossible within the religeous organization itself. Many have pointed to homeless shelters where you are expected to attend services to receive a bed, or food kitchens where prayer is said over the meals, and how this type of behavior, funded with our tax dollars, would be violating this seperation.

To counter, religeous folks acknowledge that it would be work to keep clear and seperate money pathways between gvt funds and religeous "evangelizing", but that the good that could be done would be worth it. Plus, as everyone knows, but no one will say out loud, few of the initiative's supporters would really be all that distraught if a few "Godly" messages squeaked into the mix, accidentally, but fortuitously. After all, what harm could it do? And that is why I feel that I need to point out an obvious (but so far as I can tell unheard) point: If this is going to work constitutially, it can't be funneled into any particular religeon, nor can it be refused to any federally recognized religeon You can't just say that this is a "Christian" faith based initiative, or a "Judeo-Christian" faith based initiative. Legally, anyone of any legally recognized religeon can recieve these monies as long as they offer some sort of humanitarian ministry. And I do mean anybody.

Take, for example, the big three, Jews, Christian, and Muslims. Not many Christian-type Bush supporter would object to supporting the ministries of, say, a Jewish mentoring service that mentors at risk youth through their school, but some may. After all, some hard-core Christians still feel that "the Jews killed Jesus", although this stand is thankfully more rare than it used to be.

But how many of these same supporters would want their tax dollars (and, by extension, federally-ordained credibility) to go to the same group run by members of the ultra-right-wing Tallabon (sp? sorry), the extremist Islamic group that is responsible for numerous human rights violations in Afganistan, not to mention its absolutley inhuman treatment of women in that country? Are you so sure that they aren't out there? I wouldn't bet my hard-earned tax $ on it. Or how about a Big-Brother/Big Sister type of organization run by Wiccans? Or even Satanists? Yes, both of these are federally recognized religeons, although technically, Satanism is a sect of Judeo-Christianity (Satan being an entity in Judeo-Christian mythology). Being federally recognized as bona fide religeons, they are all eligible for tax money for their ministry's humanitarian efforts. Satanists with humanitarian ministries? Well, if a little bleedover of message into method is going to be winked at in the Christian world, why not in theirs. Don't think they won't think of it.

And what about the other, more fringy, but still official religeons? Not cults, per se (as I doubt that some movement that only qualifies as a cult could receive funding) but the off the wall "Dianetics" type of "created" religeons?

All of us, whether or not any of the above worries us personally, need to consider these issues when we throw our support behind something that we can only foolishly believe will be taken advantage of by those we would want to see supported by it. In every religeon is the desire to spread and do more, whether you're a snake-handling fundementalist or a tree-hugging Celtic sorcerer (officially recognized, you know). (This somewhat unsavory realization is widely supposed to be behind the sudden withdrawal of the Christian Coalition's push for religous ceremonies and holiday paraphenalia to be allowed on public areas like courthouses. They were flooded with Wiccans and similar (not previously considered) groups "gushing" their thanks (toungue in cheek, but fully ready to go), anticipating the possiblility of gvt sanctioned nude solstice ceremonies and heathen idol erections (in more ways than one, if you consider fertility rites!) on the lawn of the local courthouse.)

PS If you do not believe that Satanism, etc would be considered a federally recognized religeon, just visit any prison, where inmates must, by law, be given the freedom to practice their professed religeon, including the tools pertaining to said worship, unless said tools would violate prison rules (no knives, for example). If the prisons allow Bibles, they have to allow the Satanic versions of such, along with Korans, Torahs, and the like. It's our constitution, folks, love it or not.

Thanks for listening and sweet dreams. (Now, I wonder just how much paperwork is involved in this? I've got some really neat ideas going around in this freaky little head of mine!)

-- Soni (thomkilroy@hotmail.com), February 15, 2001


I, too, am perplexed at the standing ovation Christians have given G.W. for his faith-based social services agenda. I fully expect for this program to be available through any and all religious affiliations, nor do I have a problem with religious organizations evangelizing and prostelizing while passing out the goodies to the needy.

My problem is having federal bureaucracy taking inventory of the resources of our churches and having our churches crawling into the federal pocket and latching on to the government sugar tit. Do you think pastors and congregatons will continue to be independent enough to stand up against government abuses if they may lose their money for it? This "faith-based" social plan stinks of fascism.

I, for one, do not want my church to become a government lapdog.

Just another conservative Cristian opinion.

-- Laura (gsend@hotmail.com), February 15, 2001.

Thanks for voicing my opinion on it as well, Laura. My God isn't short on cash and he doesn't need any government hand outs, thank you very much.

-- Doreen (animalwaitress@excite.com), February 15, 2001.

Soni: You make alot of good points and I think you're correct in the gist of the message. And I generally agree with Laura and Doreen EXCEPT the part about the prosthletyzing as a condition of receiving the "goodies". Rarely does government money come without alot of strings attached.

-- john leake (natlivent@pcpros.net), February 15, 2001.

I have been following this on the news also. I have been a volunteer at these places that will recieve the moneys locally. It was in our local paper. HOPE and HELPING HAND are non-profit organizations that provide food, clothes, dishes, furniture, baby items, Thanksgiving dinner, and ANGEL TREE presents at Christmas. Plus they have allot more to offer. Of all the times I have been there, no one ever asks them their faith, nor is it a requirement to get help. Both of these places also helps people who's houses have burned down or flooded or anything.

The people of the local area give allot of their items. The Shriners, Toys for Tots, Wallmart, Fort Knox and many other large organizations give to both of these places. There are rules to go by, and no cash is given to anyone.

As for the Food Banks, the churches are the only places that will host them. There is NO place in town that has an OPEN to the public food bank that is not a church. They have to buy the food, and most of the time they don't get it back. We have lost many food banks here locally in the last 2 years, and it hurts. There are allot of hard working people who use them. And they, the ones who can, pay for the food, and allot of people give extra just to keep it open for the ones who can't afford it. Most of this food would get thrown in the dump if no one picked it up.

The large distributor food bank in Louisville started many years ago because a young boy starved to death on Thanksgiving day right in town.

I am helping in one now, and it's free for the people because the church wants it to be. It's allot of work and allot of time, and those boxes are heavy, but the need that it fills is worth it. No food bank that I was ever at questioned anyone's faith or handed out tracts. We are only there to organize and help. Last week a person from this church took a lady to Goodwill and bought her something nice for her interview for her job.

It's real obvious why the churches have the help and food banks and why most large organizations that help others are started by Christians. Because the Bible tells us to feed the hungry and help when help is needed, it's not an option, its a command.

St. Judes hospital turns away no child. Christian City in Georgia is a massive place that helps hundreds of thousands of people. The list is endless. It dosen't matter what faith someone is, if they need help, we are to give it. The good here will far outweigh anything else. The whole point is to help the organizations that help others, and they will have to have inspections and records and signitures of people they helped.

-- Cindy in Ky (solidrockranch@hotmail.com), February 16, 2001.

I am one of those tree-hugging Celtic sorcerers (BTW, the proper term is Druid), I would like to point out that Pagan religions such as Wicca do not proselytize. We do believe in civic service just as much as the next person does. In the past year here in central IN various pagan groups have donated over 400 lbs of canned goods to the local food bank, about 30 extra-large size trash bags full of clothing to a local battered women's shelter, about 50 blankets and winter coats to a homeless shelter, conducted monthly clean-up days at a city park, and participate in an "adopt a median" program. And that's just the projects I can think of off the top of my head, I'm sure that there's many more that I have left out. All of this done by hard-working volunteers on their own time, with their own money.

-- Sherri C (CeltiaSkye@aol.com), February 16, 2001.

Let's not get into bashing each other's religion. I am very worried about churches signing up for any sort of government funding, because of the strings that will be attached. If all Christians (am one)and church congregations were doing the business we were supposed to be doing, there would be no need for federal funding. This is supposed to be taking place already. Once a year at Christmas, a basket of fruit to a shut-in is nice, but doesn't solve anything.

-- melina b. (goatgalmjb1@hotmail.com), February 16, 2001.

That is wonderful, Sherri. You know, there is so much that groups do that no one ever knows about. Maybe this happening in the government will make people more aware of what's being done right in their own towns. And maybe more organizations will be able to help fill the needs out there.

-- Cindy in Ky (solidrockranch@hotmail.com), February 16, 2001.

Thanks Cindy. I apologize if my first post sounded on the defensive side, I"ve had to put up with a lot of flak over my beliefs and it sometimes makes me oversensitive.

I think that the mixing of government and religion is a bad idea all the way around. I doubt if it would be administered evenhandedly, GW has already stated that he does not believe in funding groups such as Wiccans or the Nation of Islam. IMO faith-based charity work implies some sort of effort and sacrifice to make it meaningful, government money would just make it too cheap and easy. I also wonder if tithing would decrease if folks thought that the government would pick up the tab. I would much rather have the government cut my taxes and give me more money in my pocket to use for charitable works as I see fit.

-- Sherri C (CeltiaSkye@aol.com), February 16, 2001.

I am in agreement with Laura and Doreen. I don't want any government institution telling my church where and when they can spread the gospel. No, uh uh, Nada!

Little Bit Farm

-- Little bit Farm (littlebit@calinet.com), February 16, 2001.

I wouldn't have a problem with any of this if it would only include forcing the church to use the money in their own community. I just see little way of policing this missonary work overseas! How much of this aid is going to go to building yet another building for the church to feed the soup and sandwiches at noon? You will never be able to keep the little ole ladies running this type of program quiet, as they probably shouldn't. But that is the true catch 21 in this. Vicki

-- Vicki McGaugh TX (vickilonesomedoe@hotmail.com), February 16, 2001.

Please do not misinterpret my tongue-in-cheek descriptions and being judgemental or "bashing" of anybody's beliefs or religeon. At one time or another in my life, I have practiced many a wide-flung and hard-to-put-a-finger-on spirituality, including a moderate amount of bark fondling. I mean no insult to anyone, but merely wished to emphatically get my point across in the easiest way, by use of broad stereotypes and hyperbole. Thank you for your interest in this issue and I hope to hear from more of you over the next week or so.

-- Soni (thomkilroy@hotmail.com), February 18, 2001.

I feel I have to put my 2 cents in. This is just the beginning of the religeous freedoms we have taken for granted. This is the end times and with the Christian coalition wanting to do away with separation of church and state, in the not to far future, you will be told you cannot buy or sell unless you agree to attend the world government church. Your bibles will be confiscated and you will be thrown in jail. History has a way of repeating itself! Wake up! Study Revelations and you will understand what is behind all of this. There is noting we can do, but have a close relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ and pray for our world leaders. Please do not fall into satan's snares.

-- Andrea Larsen (andyl50@hotmail.com), February 18, 2001.

I would think that in this day of such extensive communication we could simply look around the world and see that religion and government do not mix well. I know the line about this country was founded on christian principles. Well I think if people would open their minds and read a little more we would see that simple morality is not exclusive to any one religion. When the europeans came here to find a place where they could freely practice their religion of christianity, it would make them highly hypocritical if they then turned around and were abusive and intolerant of those with other spiritual paths. Another word which comes to mind is bigot, a person of strong conviction or prejudice,especially in matters of religion ,race, or politics,who is intolerant of those who differ with them . Now I'm not willing to believe our founding fathers were hypocritical bigots so i'm going to believe they meant religious freedom for all. Any mixing of govenment and religion is a mistake in my book. If there is any mixing , it should be done fairly with no preferrential treatment to any one faith. Looking at some of the posts our judgements of other faiths are done with a generous helping of ignorance. The tendency of us humans to select one negative aspect (in our eyes) of someone elses belief system and summarize the whole belief system in that narrow view, is pretty limiting. I once heard it said the only difference between a religion and a cult is the number of adherents. peace

-- jz (oz49us@yahoo.com), February 20, 2001.

Peace be unto you, jz..........

-- Earthmama (earthmama48@yahoo.com), February 20, 2001.

wwwBush's Call to Church Groups to Get Untraditional Replies

It seems that the opportunity for non-Christian folks to get in on the action has been there for a while. This just cuts down on the amount of paperwork. I can't say that I much trust it though. It has the feel of the camel's nose in the tent, if you know what I mean. And the government never did know when to stop once it started intruding on something.

-- Connie (Connie@lunehaven.com), February 22, 2001.

Soni, you were right with the truths that you listed. One of the scriptures says, " ...not to pull up the tares because you might pull up the wheat also." I realize this is out of context but I believe the principal applies. It is said that if you tell a lie long enough and loud enough that people will believe that it is truth. So it is with the separation of church and state statement. If people would look at what the constitution REALLY says they would be more aware of truth. It says that government isn't to interfere with the way a person worships. The founding fathers put this in because this was the very reason they had left England. Shalom, Norma

-- norma russell (russells@basinonline.com), February 22, 2001.

Goodness, gracious! My Grammy used to say that when she really meant "#*&%###***&!!!. Religion is a most dificult topic. However, I honestly expect that every one (to paraphrase Joan Baez, a wonderful singer, but not particularly astute) has "GOD" on their side! My good friends - I am a Deist, much like many of our founding fathers (and mothers, too, I am sure). I know many of you are much more intelligent than I, or at least believe so. But intelligence is a difficult attribute to define! Dare any of you wish to attempt that assignment? My bottom line is that your particular religion, or belief, is not important by name. What is important is that you have a belief, and therein, I include Deists like myself, Christians - to include a plethora of sects,- Muslims, Buddhists, Great Spirits, and believers in the Great Pumpkin, as well as others who I have failed to mention. Point is: I will not expect you to become a Deist if you won't expect me to become a Frog Worshiper. It is not important how you climb the mountain. It is only important THAT you climb the mountain! GL!

-- Brad (homefixer@SacoRiver.net), February 22, 2001.

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