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"faith-based" Programs In Trouble..


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The following article was not written by what many of us would call a "progressive Christian," however it is good stuff and it comes from what I'd call a progressive evangelical Christian:

 

FAITH-BASED PROGRAMS ARE IN TROUBLE,

by Tony Campolo (a widely popular and respected evangelical Christian with great intellect and a heart for social justice)

 

The religious community had high hopes when George

W. Bush let it be known that he was a compassionate

conservative. The hearts of church leaders soared

when the president declared that he was especially

committed to faith-based social programs because

they so often deliver the best services at the

lowest cost. Sure enough, President Bush began his

administration with massive rallies where he

challenged Americans to volunteer for community

service, promising that federal funds would be

available to underwrite their efforts. He even

promised to expand Americorps, a program initiated

during the Clinton years, which enables young people

to volunteer for a year or two of full-time

community service, by offering them funding for

living expenses and up to $3,500 per year toward

paying for future education.

 

Last year President Bush gave even more

encouragement to religious leaders when he declared

that faith-based programs would henceforth have the

same opportunities as secular organizations to bid

on contracts from the Federal government, ending

what he called a long-standing bias against

religious organizations.

 

Lately, however, the initial hope and enthusiasm of

the religious community with regards to volunteerism

and these faith-based initiatives have begun to dim.

First, the economy has taken a downturn and the Bush

administration has suddenly found itself in

financial trouble. The $350-billion-dollar budget

surplus in place when Bush took office has become a

$350-billion-dollar deficit. The wars in Afghanistan

and Iraq are sucking more than $1 billion dollars a

week out of government coffers, and the prognosis is

that things could get much worse. As a result, there

is less and less money available for any kinds of

social services. Instead of expanding Americorps, as

promised, the program is being cut by one-third.

Leaders of faith-based organizations can still bid

against secular organizations for funding for social

programs, but there are fewer and fewer contracts

available for any organization that provides social

services. Instead, massive military spending has

become the order of the day. On top of all of this,

Bush's new tax cut which, by any evaluation, will

largely benefit the rich, will require that in the

next Federal budget 500,000 children will be pushed

out of needed after-school programs.

 

Perhaps the most deflating news that has come out of

the White House lately was from the Director of

USAID, which grants money to faith-based programs

working with needy people overseas. He has said in

no uncertain terms that any organization that is

taking Federal dollars should see itself as "an arm

of the U.S. government," and therefore should

refrain from any criticisms of government policies.

In other words, religious leaders committed to

relieving suffering abroad ought to abandon any idea

of having a prophetic voice because the government

has bought their silence.

 

For better or worse, I have always agreed with those

ultra-liberals who contend that giving money to

faith-based programs is a violation of the

separation of church and state. No matter how you

cut it, whenever a faith-based organization does

social work, it is either directly or indirectly

propagating its faith, which is something the

government should not financially support. On the

other hand, I also agree with those conservative

voices who say that churches should finance their

own ministries and stop demanding that Federal

dollars pay for everything. As Senator Rick Santorum

says, "If volunteers are being paid for what they

do, then they're really not volunteers anymore."

Therefore, instead of condemning President Bush for

reneging on his promises to expand funding for

faith-based programs, I think Christians, especially

American Christians, should be stepping up to the

plate and using their own vast resources to fund the

vital social work of our churches and faith-based

organizations.

 

Don't get me wrong: The government absolutely should

not cut its spending on behalf of needy people. On

the contrary, President Bush should increase

spending for schools in poor communities and he

should find a way to provide medical insurance for

the one in seven children in America who don't have

any. Our government always has had and always will

have a great responsibility to the poor. But we in

the religious community have a great responsibility

as well, and it is high time we stopped asking the

government to do our part.

 

------------

I too am a Christian who takes his faith seriously, however I realize that our secular system of government is what allows for the integrity for my denomination (and all other sects and religious groups) to be maintained. If a denomination or congregation receives federal tax dollars, they will have to do ministry in burocratic ways; and more importantly, if they become dependant upon such funding, they will lose the vitality that only only comes from private individuals supporting a charity of their choice on a VOLUNTARY basis; and finally, a church that becomes beholden to government money is likely to reduce their prophetic voice against government policies.

 

For more resources concerning preserving the separation of religion and government see: www.au.org or www.interfaithalliance.org

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I am a social worker and I was employed for a few years as a social services director for the Salvation Army. I strongly agree with the concern that proselytizing is inherent in the system.

 

In my experience, their church outreach (which is very fundamentalist Christian) always had priority over the social work. They regularly looked for new ways to evangelize their social service clients. In fact, they had social workers drafting something that they called "The Evangelization Plan for Social Services."

 

IMO, people shouldn't feel pressured in order to receive a bag full of groceries or a winter jacket.

 

:angry:

Eric

Edited by Transcendentalist
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IMO, people shouldn't feel pressured in order to receive a bag full of groceries or a winter jacket.

Why not?

IMO, hungry people should not have to sell their soul (or buy someone elses ;)) in order to get some food for their children. They shouldn't have to take a religious pledge in order to get some warm clothing. They shouldn't have to read a book in order to have a place to sleep. They shouldn't have to.........

 

.....because the charity should put aside their own agenda and provide a service. A Church or agency should help aleviate suffering because thats what people need. They don't need a lecture or a sales job.

 

Especially if their religious tenets state anything like the Christian Gospel.

 

That's my three cents. <_<

Eric

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Thanks for the article! Yep Bush's true interests are certainly coming into the light.

 

Personally, I believe in faith-based charity - under the OLD guidelines.

 

Under the pre-Bushite guidelines, any church could create a separate branch that was separate from the church. That branch would be classified as a non-sectarian charity within which proselytizing could not happen.

 

Faith-based charity went on like that for decades. The Catholics and the Salvation Army and everyone else created their own branches and did fine.

 

Bush didn't add any respect of faith-based charity - he added allowance of proselytizing. :angry:

 

Hopefully, we can get that administration out and the OLD guidelines for true faith-based charity back in. :)

 

~ Lib

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IMO, people shouldn't feel pressured in order to receive a bag full of groceries or a winter jacket.

Why not?

IMO, hungry people should not have to sell their soul (or buy someone elses ;)) in order to get some food for their children. They shouldn't have to take a religious pledge in order to get some warm clothing. They shouldn't have to read a book in order to have a place to sleep. They shouldn't have to.........

 

.....because the charity should put aside their own agenda and provide a service. A Church or agency should help aleviate suffering because thats what people need. They don't need a lecture or a sales job.

 

Especially if their religious tenets state anything like the Christian Gospel.

 

That's my three cents. <_<

Eric

I hope you don't mind if I start a new thread to consider the topic of charity and proselytization a little further. It's slightly off-topic from the main topic, but something I would like to hear more thoughts about.

 

John

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I agree that people in need should have their needs met first. The love that goes into the service should be the message that wins the heart of the recipient (I believe this is the path of Jesus Christ).

 

I also think that the first amendment right of the constitution of the U.S. allows for what may be misguided dogma to be communicated to the recipient of the service provided.

 

It is when the government takes (under threat of penalty) money from the pockets of Hindus, Muslems, Buddhists, Jews, Atheists, etc. and gives it to a service provider that the line is drawn by the same constitutional amendment that all evangilizing must cease.

 

In my humble opinion, both government and religion are ill-served when this line is crossed. There are plenty of secular aid organizations that the government can tap into and if the religious aid groups are hurting for funds, they should go to their faithful to find out why.

 

Jesus didn't say "Give unto Ceasar so that he can give unto the religion of his choosing."

 

With Love for God through Jesus,

 

Andrew

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Yes, and here is the sad statistic... if every church in America were to take care of two (2!) families on welfare, no one in America would be on welfare. Jesus loved people regardless of who they were or what they did. The religious pharisees objected to his inclusion of sinners and prostitutes in the Kingdom. Things are the same way today. The Christian thing to do is to love people and take care of them regardless.

 

I am a fan of Campola's teachings. I guess I may fall into the "progressive evangelical neo-orthodoxy" category, though not exactly. Campola's son and I are also friends. I have learned a lot from the Campola family over the years. In fact, I remember when I felt like Bart Campola was the only Christian who really accepted me as a person. Then I started reading Travelling Mercies by Anne Lamott and then Marcus Borg. Etc, etc.

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  • 3 months later...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1/15/04

 

Bush Faith-Based Initiative Rolls Back Civil Rights Protections, Watchdog Group Says President George Bush's "faith-based" initiative rolls back vital civil rights protections, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State (posted 01/15/04).

 

CONTACT

Press:

Joseph Conn, Rob Boston, or Jeremy Leaming

202-466-3234 telephone 202-466-2587 fax

Americans United

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

BUSH FAITH-BASED INITIATIVE ROLLS BACK CIVIL RIGHTS PROTECTIONS, WATCHDOG GROUP SAYS

 

Scheme Gives Religious Groups Special Treatment, Including Right To Discriminate With Public Funds

 

President George Bush's "faith-based" initiative rolls back vital civil rights protections, according to Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

 

Bush touted the plan today in New Orleans in a visit to Union Bethel AME Church, a predominantly African-American congregation. Later in the day, he was scheduled to lay a wreath at the crypt of Dr. Martin Luther King in Atlanta.

 

Americans United, which has spearheaded opposition to the Bush plan, said the president is misleading the public about its true character.

 

"For years, the government has worked with religious groups to provide social services," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "But religious groups were required to play by the same rules that secular agencies followed.

 

"President Bush wants to give religious groups special treatment," Lynn continued. "He clearly has no understanding of the separation of church and state. The government has no business funding salvation and religious conversion. That's the job of our houses of worship."

 

Continued Lynn, "Under the president's plan, churches would be allowed to discriminate in hiring with public funds. That's taxpayer-subsidized job discrimination. This initiative would roll back nondiscrimination rules dating back to Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration.

 

"It is hypocritical of President Bush to lay a wreath at the grave of Dr. King on the same day he is pushing a plan to roll back vital civil rights protections," Lynn said. "This is disgraceful.

 

"Our Constitution forbids government-funded religion," Lynn concluded. "President Bush is trying to overturn two centuries of church-state separation."

 

The Bush initiative is stalled in Congress because of constitutional and civil rights concerns. Meanwhile, however, the administration has pushed for implementation through executive orders. Most religious and civil rights groups continue to oppose the president's plan.

 

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization represents members and houses of worship in all 50 states.

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FYI..... Utilizing public taxpayer dollars to fund religious schools and organizations would violate our nation's historical tradition of separation of church & state and it would harm the integrity of both religious communities and the government. Moreover, it would drain much needed funding to our nation's public schools and only make things worse for them.

 

----- Original Message -----

From: Matt Howes, National Internet Organizer, ACLU

To: ACLU Action Network

Date: January 20, 2004

 

Over the next couple days, Congress is expected to vote on an appropriations bill that includes a provision to use tax dollars to support private religious schools.

 

The provision -- a pilot voucher program in Washington D.C. -- would allow taxpayer funds to subsidize religious schools and other private institutions. While proponents of the program argue that it will give children a choice in education, the choice would only be available to a small segment of the public school students. Religious schools and other private schools are not required to comply with many federal civil rights laws and can exclude students based on their religion, gender and learning or physical disabilities. Consequently this program would funnel taxpayer funds into private schools that can pick and choose which students to accept.

 

Not only would this pilot program funnel fourteen million dollars towards religious schools, it would also be the first step towards expanding the use of vouchers nationwide.

 

Take Action! Taxpayer funds should not support religious schools.

 

Click here to get more information and send free faxes to your Members of Congress:

 

http://www.aclu.org/ReligiousLiberty/ReligiousLiberty.cfm?ID=14742&c=140

 

2) Mark Your Calendar: Join Matt Coles For Live Online Audio Chat Tomorrow

 

Matt Coles, director of the ACLU's Lesbian and Gay Rights and AIDS projects, will conduct a live online audio chat Wed., January 21 from 4 - 5 p.m.(EST). Featured topics will include the threat to amend the Constitution to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, parenting rights, discrimination and issues affecting LGBT youth. The chat will be available in RealOne Player and Windows Media Player formats. You can submit a question at: https://www.aclu.org/feedback/feedback.cfm?r=42&ip=0

 

*****************************************************

For more information on other issues and the latest news, please visit our website at http://ACLU

 

Help Strengthen the ACLU's Voice in Congress... Click below to become a card-carrying Member or donate today!

http://www.aclu.org/contribute/contribute.....cfm?ORGID=AA02

 

If you are not already on our mailing list and would like to subscribe to the ACLU Action Network Updates, click http://www.aclu.org/team/member.cfm

 

To find out what more you can do to protect your civil liberties, please visit http://www.aclu.org/action

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