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Uncle Sam filling the collection plate
September 27, 2005 7:22 AM   Subscribe

FEMA to reimburse churches. Washington Post story: "After weeks of prodding by Republican lawmakers and the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said yesterday that it will use taxpayer money to reimburse churches and other religious organizations that have opened their doors to provide shelter, food and supplies to survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita."
posted by kokogiak (77 comments total)

 
Yes -- aiding the hungry, hurt, sick, and displaced out of the goodness of one's heart, or because it's the right thing to do, is so old-fashioned. Where's the percentage? Hell, you can't expect a church to just give the stuff away!

Back to reality. The only appropriate moral choice for these churches to make is to refuse the payments.
posted by Miko at 7:28 AM on September 27, 2005


I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, many churches did great things at their cost, but aren't they supposed to? This just seems like a very dangerous precedent.
posted by dig_duggler at 7:29 AM on September 27, 2005


As a Christian, this really disappointed me. My desperate hope is that this is an attempt to get on the good side of the President's usual supporters, rather than a response to the requests and complaints of churches.

The Christian duty is to love sacrificially. To expect handouts as a result is simply un-Christlike. I liked this response:

“Volunteer labor is just that: volunteer,” said the Rev. Robert E. Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board. “We would never ask the government to pay for it.”
posted by superbird at 7:31 AM on September 27, 2005


Also not mentioned in the article, what about non church going people who did things out of their pocket? Even housing misplaced people? Do they get reimbursed? Very sticky situation....
posted by dig_duggler at 7:31 AM on September 27, 2005


"Volunteer labor is just that: volunteer," said the Rev. Robert E. Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board. "We would never ask the government to pay for it."

Amen. Truthfully, though, I don't have a problem with this as long as it's conducted above-board. FEMA has a program to reimburse any organization providing shelter, food, and supplies, and the real question is not whether religious organizations get some special benefit, but rather, whether they should be excluded from participating in the program. If FEMA were targetting religious groups for reimbursement, that would obviously present constitutional difficulties, but inclusion in a neutrally-applicable program seems consistent with the First Amendment.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:35 AM on September 27, 2005


I don't understand what the problem is. If these churches get reimbursed, not only will there be no danger of them no longer being able to serve the community, but there'll also be no instinctively holding back by them the next time that their help is needed.

A lot of churches are very poor. The large financial outlay that some of them made could cripple them forever if they don't get any help. Sure, they shouldn't profit from the charity, but do they have to suffer for helping?
posted by veedubya at 7:36 AM on September 27, 2005


veedubya, don't be surprised when these handouts go to churches that are surprisingly well-off, and surprisingly well-staffed with friends of republican politicians.

These payments are not destined for the small, poor community churches devastated in the heart of new orleans. Even if they were, you can bet that they won't make it that far.
posted by odinsdream at 7:42 AM on September 27, 2005


Veedub, I work in one of those poor churches, I can can tell you that even when poor, our desire is to have the attitude of Christ. Christ's desire was to love sacrificially. He died for us while we were killing him with out sin.

We see it like this: the least we can do is love others in the same, sacrificial way. If that means we can't afford that piano upgrade, new carpetting, or even to get paid until a week late, so be it.

I can't speak for the mosques, but for the Christian, Miko is right. The only appropriate response is to refuse the money.
posted by superbird at 7:44 AM on September 27, 2005


The ACLU, the ASPCA, and NARAL all volunteered and donated resources too. They'll be expecting their checks any day now, right?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:53 AM on September 27, 2005


I hereby demand to be compensated for all the charitable contributions I've ever made. Oh wait, no I don't.
posted by leapingsheep at 7:54 AM on September 27, 2005


superbird, I'm not religious, but you seem like a good person. I'd guess that there's many more like you out there. That's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned.

I just don't see how it would make sense for a church to refuse that money when, with the money, they could then go on to help yet more people.

Over here in the UK, the churches as an institution are filthy rich, but at ground level, the small parish churches are dirt poor. I used to work with a guy that used to be a vicar but gave it up because there was so little money available that it meant he was relying on charity to feed his family. The lack of money available to churches in this country would mean that lending the scale of assistance that your churches lent, could send them over the financial brink.
posted by veedubya at 7:56 AM on September 27, 2005


Naturally all of these churches are committed to hiring all of their staffers without discrimination based on religion, race, or sexual orientation, right? And a full investigation has been conducted into each church to determine that their aid to the poor doesn't come with any doctrinal strings attached, right? So, there shouldn't be any problem with federal money going to support their efforts....

The usual suspects who would be rabid about this -- the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State -- already have a lot on their plate right now in terms of church-state separation... I hope this gets the beatdown it deserves.
posted by gurple at 8:00 AM on September 27, 2005


This "policy decision" wouldn't have anything to do with greasing up the American Taliban demographic before 2006 and 2008 elections, now would it?
posted by Rothko at 8:06 AM on September 27, 2005


As long as the program is inclusive of any organization that helped, excluding churches would be a violation of their separation from the state.

Separation just means that the government is forbidden from expressing an opinion about religion. It can't endorse religion, but it can't detract from it either. This rule applies to people in the government as well, when acting in an official capacity. They can be rabble-rousing evangelicals after hours and on weekends, but during their day jobs as government employees, they're paid to have no opinion.

Excluding aid organizations because of their professed religious beliefs is discrimination in exactly the same way that rewarding them would be. It's expressing a negative opinion, which isn't allowed either.
posted by Malor at 8:08 AM on September 27, 2005


Veedub wrote: I just don't see how it would make sense for a church to refuse that money when, with the money, they could then go on to help yet more people.

But that's not really the point of this, is it? The point is to appease whatever churches (real or imagined) may be expecting to be reimbursed for the help they've done already. What is the church here for if not for times such as this?
posted by superbird at 8:10 AM on September 27, 2005


Yes! Deny churches who have sacrificed hours and money and resources any recompensation! Investigate their hiring practices! Accuse them of seeking to profit from tragedy!

Then, of course, watch the Democrats lose again! And again in '08! Go self-righteous liberals, go!!
posted by billysumday at 8:13 AM on September 27, 2005


This is a good thing.

I worked in these churches with evacuees. Most of you have no fucking idea. This is not like the Vatican throwing pittances to the the masses. This is about CHURCHES SPENDING MONEY THAT THEY DON'T FUCKING HAVE. I'm talking dirt poor people handing over their whole fucking paychecks to feed people they've never met.

You don't know what sacrifice is until you see THE GUY WHO RIDES AROUND TOWN ON HIS BIKE PICKING UP CANS going into a shelter and asking if they need his four dollars. Broke my heart.

These churches gave and gave and gave, until there was nothing left to give. The two shelters on my street where I helped provided 24 hour care to their people.

These are not evil Republican jew-hating homophobic bastards trying to convert all of their guests while shaking the government down for money. These churches need to be helped out for the help they gave.

Get off your fucking pedestals here.
posted by ColdChef at 8:15 AM on September 27, 2005


Once again, ColdChef- so they'll be recompensating the non-religous groups when? The local animal shelters? The women's free clinics? Trade you a pedestal for the soapbox; it's kinda retro.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:26 AM on September 27, 2005


Meh, churches are penny ante stuff anyway. Be sure to act distracted while the real looting goes on:

FEMA, which is part of Homeland Security, was harshly criticized in recent months as mismanaging millions of dollars in relief funds after a 2004 hurricane in [Bush-friendly] Florida...

Spokesmen at FEMA have been unwilling to provide details of the decision-making process that is being used to award contracts for the [Katrina] hurricane-relief program, nor have they identified the agency officials who are making the procurement decisions.

posted by Rothko at 8:26 AM on September 27, 2005


Speaking of Federal Funds for Churches:

Under President Bush's plan to cover most of the cost of educating students displaced by Hurricane Katrina, parents could enroll their children in a private or religious school this year at federal expense, even if they had gone to public schools back home, administration officials said yesterday

The House of Representatives on Thursday approved bipartisan legislation to extend the popular Head Start early childhood program despite controversy over the role of faith-based groups(...)The controversy was not whether faith-based groups should run Head Start programs; dozens already do, and people across the political spectrum welcome them. The fight was over whether they should be able to use religious criteria for hiring, which critics said could lead to religious discrimination.

"A faith-based initiative has no place in Head Start," said Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat. "Don't start the resegregation of America."

The White House backed the faith-based provision, saying it would protect religious group from having to "forfeit their religious hiring autonomy."

posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:26 AM on September 27, 2005


Being a christian, as well as one who has served during relief efforts in Gulfport, MS, I think that this is a good thing. The organization I served with left from Virginia the Monday Katrina hit. We were on the road without any idea where we were going and how we'd serve, or how long we'd be there on top of not knowing how it'd be paid for. Somewhere along the lines it has to be paid for, and if the FEMA wants to help, than I have a feeling the oganization will accept the money. But we served and helped without expectation that we'd be reimbursed by the govt. The organization get's most/all of it's support from various churches through the country.
posted by TuxHeDoh at 8:27 AM on September 27, 2005


The problem is, Bush ran on a platform that Churchs should supply for the needy instead of Federal welfare and other programs. Privatization of welfare. Since Churches receive about %50+ of all charitable giving in this country.
posted by stbalbach at 8:28 AM on September 27, 2005


... so they'll be recompensating the non-religous groups when?

Read the article. The religious organizations are being reimbursed as part of a neutrally-applicable program in which any aid organization which meets the requirements may participate. This is not a decision to create a special program for churches; this is a decision not to exclude churches from a program that already exists.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:32 AM on September 27, 2005


Once again, ColdChef- so they'll be recompensating the non-religous groups when? The local animal shelters? The women's free clinics?.

Well, though it's not mentioned in this article, some of those places are getting reimbursed. At least the ones here are. And someone mentioned above the private citizens? People who took in more than their share of evacuees to their home ARE getting governmental assistance, including foodstamps, money for gasoline, and payment for hardships incurred.

Look, if you don't understand that immediate help was given to these people by the people who could least afford it, then you are talking out of your ass. Most of the immediate aid was given by people who had also lost their homes, jobs, and family members.
posted by ColdChef at 8:41 AM on September 27, 2005


coldchef: dude get off your fucking pedestal as well ! I know of churces that take money promising to use them for poor people..but they don't promise to give ALL to people, so they give a fraction or second choice shit...it's not unusual to see some priest with expensive cars and a second choice car to give the impression they're poor.

I'm not implying the ones you know didn't do good, on the contrary I'm willing to believe they did..but as there is almost no way to know if a local church is honest or false UNLESS one follows them closely and locally , I'm not willing to give money to a church on the assumption they'regood people.

Indeed my trust in any church is so low I prefer to volounteer a couple hour every now and then so that I can keep control on what's going on and to who and why.
posted by elpapacito at 8:44 AM on September 27, 2005


I think what is more interesting is what stbalbach stated, which is Bush's earlier idea that churches and religious organizations are better suited and more financially sound in providing a security net than the federal government. Check out Ozabel's _Tragedy of American Compassion_ on that note. I personally get nervous about money and churches but it is fair that ALL organizations that ask and can prove financial outlays be reimbursed IF they ask.

However, the bigger issue is if churches are getting real cash strapped on one natural disaster I am not sure if shifting the social net's costs and responsibilities to them is a great overall policy move as posited by Ozabel and his school of thought.
posted by jadepearl at 8:46 AM on September 27, 2005


Have you even been to Louisiana and Southern Mississippi? I'm not talking about Jimmy Swaggart here (although his church did help quite a bit during the aftermath) I'm talking about The First United Pentecostal Church of Backwoods Mississippi. There are no ministers driving Cadillacs, this isn't about using the collection plate to fund a new organ. These are poor, poor churches with poor, poor people.

This is about being able to pay their electric bill. This is about being able to pay for gas to run generators.

Those of you who know me here know that I am no fan of the intermingling of church and state, and I'm about as liberal as a southerner can get. And I'd like to think that I'm the kind of person who gives more than he takes. If you want to suggest that I'm playing into the hands of the Republicans by taking the government's money, that's your right to do so.

But until you've been down here to see it for yourself, let me politely suggest that you're not able to see the whole picture here.
posted by ColdChef at 8:54 AM on September 27, 2005


in other news, michael brown is at this moment denying any blame for problems with handling Katrina emergency ABC news

I predict one, single-link newsfilter FPP approaching front page in 3...2...1...

/possible derail
posted by poppo at 8:54 AM on September 27, 2005


Read the article. The religious organizations are being reimbursed as part of a neutrally-applicable program in which any aid organization which meets the requirements may participate. This is not a decision to create a special program for churches; this is a decision not to exclude churches from a program that already exists.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 8:32 AM PST on September 27 [!]


I just thought a few people need to read that post again.
posted by elwoodwiles at 8:57 AM on September 27, 2005


I have strong individual faith, but at the same time am remarkably governmentally secular. Because of that, I felt my blood boiling as I read the FPP. It made me follow the link to find what was going on, and almost immediately I found that the truth was more like what many members above have said, and my blood pressure dropped. In true separation of church and state, private religious organizations must be viewed equal to private non-religious ones. Anything different is a bias in one direction or the other. Compensation being offered for aid delivered is no different, although no organization from either camp is required to accept it.
posted by mystyk at 9:03 AM on September 27, 2005


You know what? I hate debates where one asshole is all, "YOU don't know what it's like because YOU WEREN'T THERE!"

But it you'll allow me a moment to be that asshole...

It really is worse than you can possibly imagine. People living in tents in 100 degree weather. Shitting in the woods. Camped out next to their gutted homes.

These churches, restaurants, abandoned Walmarts used as shelters, all of them deserve whatever assistance they can get. If you don't believe how needy these people are, read some of the local newspapers down here. Read The Sea Coast Echo.

God forbid any of you are ever in a situation where you are depending (to borrow a phrase) on the "kindness of strangers" for your very life.

So, feel free to argue about what we need down here to put the pieces of our lives back together. If government assistance to churches angers you, write a congressman. If you're worried about the women's shelters and the poor abandoned animals, write a check and send it down here.

But please do more than just criticize from the kind of comfort these people can only dream of.
posted by ColdChef at 9:04 AM on September 27, 2005


I predict that, proportionally, more organizations that don't need the cash will apply for reimbursement than organizations that could use the cash. I am opposed to the idea of wealthy churches acculumating more money. If refusing to reimburse any churches would have the effect of both hurting poor churches and hurting rich churches, I won't shed a single salty tear.
posted by solid-one-love at 9:05 AM on September 27, 2005


You know what? I hate debates where one asshole is all, "YOU don't know what it's like because YOU WEREN'T THERE!"

But it you'll allow me a moment to be that asshole...


Thanks for keeping it in perspective, ColdChef.
posted by russilwvong at 9:12 AM on September 27, 2005


I predict that, proportionally, more organizations that don't need the cash will apply for reimbursement than organizations that could use the cash.

Not if I can help it. I've already been in touch with most of the churches in my town that were used for shelters and we're getting free legal aid to help us apply for federal funds. Between my friends and me, we have plenty of computer-savvy, red tape eating, vocal bastards who will get the money where it is needed. One thing I've found through all of this is that the help is there if you only know how to ask. And I'm going to make sure my friends and neighbors know how to ask.
posted by ColdChef at 9:21 AM on September 27, 2005


I know of churches that take money promising to use them for poor people..but they don't promise to give ALL to people, so they give a fraction or second choice shit...it's not unusual to see some priest with expensive cars and a second choice car to give the impression they're poor.

Okay, but that really has nothing to do with whether churches in southern states that were affected by Katrina were giving money/time/services that they could not afford to give. This is about whether specific churches should get reimbursed for supplying aid after a hurricane, not about whether or not it's possible for any church anywhere to misappropriate funds.

I think if church people were demanding that FEMA reimburse them, then that would seems to go against the idea of charity. But if someone decides (on their behalf) that they are eligible for reimbursements, I don't think that there is anything wrong with that.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:22 AM on September 27, 2005


Any church that needs the funds should take it, and church that doesn't should pass it along.

It's called the christian thing to do (and this coming from a jew).
posted by cyphill at 9:31 AM on September 27, 2005


Great, now we've got the US goverment funding the Scientoligists.
posted by Mitheral at 9:44 AM on September 27, 2005


I'm antireligionist, but I think this is a Good Idea. There are still a lot of people in trouble, and the money can be used by the organizations - religious or not - to extend the help they are offering.

If there needs to be a rebalancing, let it be done later. Take the churches off the tax-free property rolls.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:46 AM on September 27, 2005


Oh look, Metafilter uses its prejudices to scorn the church even before it's done anything wrong. How many of you even took the time to read the article?

In these places, the church is the center of the community, the social center and, in crisis, the place people come to when they have nowhere else to go. Hell, the church is the food bank, the red cross and the community center all at once. The church does this by taking up funds from its congregation; in this instance, its congregation has nothing left and they're not even just helping their members but anyone who walks in off the street. Expecting them to take on the financial burden of your fellow citizens is, well, incredible. Their way of life (christian, muslim, whatever) might not be the same as yours but expecting them to suffer because of it is beyond reproach.

I predict that, proportionally, more organizations that don't need the cash will apply for reimbursement than organizations that could use the cash. I am opposed to the idea of wealthy churches acculumating more money. If refusing to reimburse any churches would have the effect of both hurting poor churches and hurting rich churches, I won't shed a single salty tear.

Fuck the poor if the rich might see some, eh? You're probably opposed to African aid too, aren't you?

Being in a position to make statements like that is very priviledged; making them shows a lack of character and appreciation for the kind of problems other people have.
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:49 AM on September 27, 2005


Don't worry, ColdChef, not everyone here is ready to pillory you for being insufficiently liberal or insufficiently snarky with regard to the administration.
This is a good thing, but one that like many others should require a level of oversight. Hopefully, there are enough people who care about a secular government to give that oversight. I imagine there'll be some Public Trust whitepapers written about this.
posted by klangklangston at 9:51 AM on September 27, 2005


Here in Colorado Springs, a very wealthy town, with many thousands of religous organizations and worldwide evangelical groups, we've turned away the survivors.

I am ashamed of my city. I also second removing property tax exemption for these groups.
posted by Balisong at 9:59 AM on September 27, 2005


"If there needs to be a rebalancing, let it be done later."

Well, this faith-based disaster relief is just part of a church-state rebalancing that's going on already.
posted by washburn at 10:00 AM on September 27, 2005


dflemingdotorg writes: "In these places, the church is the center of the community, the social center and, in crisis, the place people come to when they have nowhere else to go. Hell, the church is the food bank, the red cross and the community center"

Yes, that's the idea here, I think.
posted by washburn at 10:04 AM on September 27, 2005


Chef, XQUZ is making sense. I agree with you that many of these churches deserve reimbursement. but other less GOP-loving institutions deserve it, too. NARAL helped? reimburse them.
I wouldn't hold my breath, though. I'll be happy to be proven wrong.


until you've been down here to see it for yourself, let me politely suggest that you're not able to see the whole picture here.

until you've calmed down a bit, let me politely suggest that you're still too shaken by the horrors you've witnessed to be able to see the whole picture here.

*hugs ColdChef*
posted by matteo at 10:07 AM on September 27, 2005


Balisong, the Colorado Springs fundagelicals have already distorted the message so badly that it's not surprising they'd do that. It is definately shameful, though, as you have stated.

Those organizations are religions in search of power when they're supposed to be faiths in search of truth.
posted by mystyk at 10:08 AM on September 27, 2005


coldchef: dude get off your fucking pedestal as well ! I know of churces that take money promising to use them for poor people..but they don't promise to give ALL to people, so they give a fraction or second choice shit...it's not unusual to see some priest with expensive cars and a second choice car to give the impression they're poor. elpapacito
You should step down off your pedestal since you are peering over from a different continent. Also, we call them churches.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:12 AM on September 27, 2005


...but other less GOP-loving institutions deserve it, too.

Read the goddamn article. For the third time in this thread:
The religious organizations are being reimbursed as part of a neutrally-applicable program in which any aid organization which meets the requirements may participate. This is not a decision to create a special program for churches; this is a decision not to exclude churches from a program that already exists.
Balisong, I'm not in Colorado, and so I don't know the whole situation, but the article to which you linked suggests that the City of Colorado Springs has taken in 1,600 evacuees and spent over $85,000, and is turning away evacuees only because there is no place to put them. The article doesn't say anything about what the religious organizations are doing or not doing. Is that not accurate?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 10:16 AM on September 27, 2005


Chef, XQUZ is making sense. I agree with you that many of these churches deserve reimbursement. but other less GOP-loving institutions deserve it, too. NARAL helped? reimburse them.
I wouldn't hold my breath, though. I'll be happy to be proven wrong.


Well, as I said above, my main goal for the next few months (outside of my work and my family) is to make sure that people get the resources they need. And you're right, if an organization helped, and they apply for reimbursement, then they should get what they need. I hope to prove you wrong.

until you've calmed down a bit, let me politely suggest that you're still too shaken by the horrors you've witnessed to be able to see the whole picture here.

Point well taken. Thank you.
posted by ColdChef at 10:19 AM on September 27, 2005


I don't see why Red Cross, Christian charities, National Council of Churches, Southern Baptist and the other head religious organizations, etc, money isn't enough for the churches. And show me Mosques and Hindu Temples, etc, getting the money too.

This is a political decision first and foremost--like with everything this crowd does--whether or not the churches could actually use the money. It seems like it should be a Red Cross thing, and that FEMA money should be used for housing and supplying those Churches with food and equipment and tangible items--not just throwing money without oversight.
posted by amberglow at 10:22 AM on September 27, 2005


Generators too, and water tanks/trucks. Even if you throw money at a church, how do they get those things to their tiny towns?
posted by amberglow at 10:23 AM on September 27, 2005


It seems like it should be a Red Cross thing,
Thought before the Hurricane hit, the Red Cross pulled out, left town. Making any donor that stayed more worthy since they didn't have to return, re-open and then be in a position to give.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:34 AM on September 27, 2005


I pay taxes so the State, local and Federal govenment will take care of things in a crisis. If I wished for a church to take care of things, I'd give them money.

Beyone separation of church and state and whether or not volunteers should be profesionalized retroactively, I object to the political philosophy that churches (always Christian) should take care of charity.
posted by QIbHom at 10:46 AM on September 27, 2005


Well, it's better than FEMA spending money on crap like this...but as an atheist libertarian/anarchist, I dislike any government money going to any religious group, regardless of the logic or need.
posted by weirdoactor at 10:53 AM on September 27, 2005


I don't care if a church gets reimbursed, so long as they're not treated differently than other people and organizations.
posted by I Love Tacos at 11:08 AM on September 27, 2005


This is a political decision first and foremost--like with everything this crowd does--whether or not the churches could actually use the money.

This is not a program to fund churches who might use the money for disaster relief at some indefinite time in the future; this is reimbursement for expenses the churches have already incurred providing disaster relief. There is no risk that the money might go to churches who couldn't or wouldn't use the money, the money goes to churches who have already spent it.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 11:16 AM on September 27, 2005


I have to go with QIbHom and five fresh fish on this (and to a degree I Love Tacos)
It'd be fine if churches were subject to the same laws as any non-profit charity. Tax laws too.They're not.

In some ways equal is not always fair. We don't equally distibute grant money for education for example. Joe Rich kid isn't going to get the grants Joe Poor kid is going to qualify for.

In the same way belief here plays a role. My tax money is secular. (Render unto Caeser ring a bell?) So it should only go to secular outfits that abide by certain rules conformed to by the agreed upon social contract.

Before we get into the "this is and was founded as a Christian nation" debate, that doesn't enter into it. My values are deeply held as well, but they're non-christian. Were I, say, a Sikh, I wouldn't like to be told all about Jesus while the food is being dished out. Thanks, but can't I just have the food?
Certainly this isn't always happening, but we know it won't happen if it's through a non-religious charity.
The reverse is also true.
As a Sikh (for example) I like to carry a dagger as a symbol of my commitment to my faith. I would not like to be told I have to remove that symbol if I am to receive any money from the feds. There are certainly analogies to various Christian concepts that are not in line with the current law.
People seem to forget the separation of church and state protects the church as well.
For those reasons private religious organizations are not and will never be equal to private non-religious ones. Private charities are basically simple machines. Churches/temples, etc. have an ethos beyond helping the poor. To that end, I would not want my tax dollars to go there unless I agree with that ethos.


“It really is worse than you can possibly imagine.”
Been to Honduras? It was bad. In '98 Hurricane Mitch kicked the hell out of people who would consider a tent a significant upgrade. Ooh! Firewood!
posted by Smedleyman at 11:20 AM on September 27, 2005


I'm just glad they found something to do with all that extra money!
posted by aubilenon at 11:27 AM on September 27, 2005


And show me Mosques and Hindu Temples, etc, getting the money too

Oh, for fuck's sake. How many mosques, Hindu temples, Shinto shrines, Norse-God-Worshipping places of worship, or Randite Non-Collectivist Franchised Galt's Gulches do you think there even are in southern Louisiana and Mississippi?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:28 AM on September 27, 2005


At least 37 mosques in Louisiana.

I'm just as surprised as you are.
posted by ColdChef at 11:35 AM on September 27, 2005


ROU_Xenophobe, there are some Norse-God-Worshipping people there. I know them.

As for places of worship, Asatruar don't apply for religious status for them, because most of us don't believe in exempting religous buildings from taxes.

Yes, we've been helping our own. And others, without asking what religion they practise, if any. I've heard no talk of trying to get reimbursed for it. I suspect I'd be laughed out of the room if I suggested it.
posted by QIbHom at 12:33 PM on September 27, 2005


That lists several mosques/ICs more than once. The American Religion Data Archive estimates 23 mosques and 13,000 adherents. Which doesn't surprise me; I'd expect a thin spread of Muslim immigrants (& their kids) and some number of black-Muslims in the major cities.

But 13000 is approximately zero, compared to a million and a half Catholics and three quarters of a million Southern Baptists; smaller than noise in the data. That's all my point is. Assuming there's nothing special about muslims one way or another, we wouldn't expect any more than a small fraction of one percent of this money to go to mosques even if it were absolutely completely 100% pure-as-the-driven-snow faith-blind.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:34 PM on September 27, 2005


ROU_Xenophobe, there are some Norse-God-Worshipping people there. I know them.

I wouldn't doubt it. In a population as large as Lousiana's, I'd expect to find at least one adherent of nearly every faith on the planet. But I'd expect to find only a very few of anything other than Christians and nonreligious people.

amberglow's comment implied some vast sea of oppressed mosques not getting any money. In an area with a trivial proportion of Muslims (or Asatruar; I didn't know that word, sorry), you'd only expect a trivial proportion of money to end up in their religious organizations.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:42 PM on September 27, 2005


From the article:

"FEMA officials said religious organizations would be eligible for payments only if they operated emergency shelters, food distribution centers or medical facilities at the request of state or local governments in the three states that have declared emergencies -- Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama."

If true--and if non-religious organizations get the same consideration--it doesn't seem unusual. Of course, how would they prove the requests from the governments?
posted by danblaker at 12:43 PM on September 27, 2005


Is it not appropriate for your tax money to be used to help other Americans?

Or would you rather rely on religious charity?

So long as the recipient church has been assisting victims without prejudice against religion or race, and without proselytizing or otherwise forcing religion onto the recipients, I do not see any reason why it would be inappropriate for the government to refund those churches. They are providing services that are rightly the domain of the government, at a time the government can not adequately provide those services.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:26 PM on September 27, 2005


"parents could enroll their children in a private or religious school this year at federal expense"

I don't have a problem with my tax dollars being used to help other Americans... but I do kind of have a problem with my tax dollars being used to pay for kids to go to religious schools. Even private school makes me a bit uncomfortable, but far less so than church school.

Although I do understand that such schools may be the only places that have room for the kids... I'm just not happy about that money being given to them. We should be able to apply that money to public schools to help them handle the larger load.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:42 PM on September 27, 2005


Even private school makes me a bit uncomfortable, but far less so than church school.

If you can use state money to go to a private school, it shouldn't matter whether that school has pictures of Malcolm X, Mao, Jesus, Elvis, or Ron Jeremy on its walls.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:42 PM on September 27, 2005


Dear aid organizations and churches and all you folks:

We understand that you've been doing our jobs for us. Well, thanks! As a token of our appreciation for stepping in while we screwed the pooch, here's some money. Keep up the good work, because, you know, we aren't.

- FEMA
posted by palinode at 3:08 PM on September 27, 2005


...people who did things out of their pocket? Even housing misplaced people? Do they get reimbursed?

Having dealt with these FEMA people I have three words for you: receipts, receipts, receipts.
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:26 PM on September 27, 2005


I expect my government to use my tax money. Not outsource it to churches.

"They are providing services that are rightly the domain of the government, at a time the government can not adequately provide those services.'

Fair enough. That shouldn't be happening tho.

"...would be eligible for payments only if they operated emergency shelters, food distribution centers or medical facilities at the request of state or local governments."

I'm clueless as to why it's ok to make churches defacto federal employees and yet not do it for another organization.

That said I recognize the realities of the situation (vs. the ideal) and concede that, given this as a one time deal, it's fair for it to go down like that. I don't want to see anyone have to go short if the feds asked them to do something.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:02 PM on September 27, 2005


I'm clueless as to why it's ok to make churches defacto federal employees and yet not do it for another organization.

*sigh*

Look, I know reading comprehension is undervalued these days, but read this one more time:
The religious organizations are being reimbursed as part of a neutrally-applicable program in which any aid organization which meets the requirements may participate. This is not a decision to create a special program for churches; this is a decision not to exclude churches from a program that already exists.
Any organization that meets the FEMA requirements, not just churches, will be reimbursed.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:18 PM on September 27, 2005


Fuck the poor if the rich might see some, eh?

Specifically in the case of churches, yes.

You're probably opposed to African aid too, aren't you?

I am less opposed to rich African warlords than I am to rich Western churches.

Being in a position to make statements like that is very priviledged; making them shows a lack of character and appreciation for the kind of problems other people have.

I'm not making "statements like that". I made very specific statements. Making a character judgment based on an inference like that shows a lack of basic reading comprehension.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:00 PM on September 27, 2005


The Red Cross money pit -- ...As of last week, the American Red Cross reported that it had raised $826 million in private funds for Hurricane Katrina victims. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has the total figure at more than $1.2 billion for all relief groups reporting. So the Red Cross received about 70% of all giving.
...
This skewed giving to Red Cross would be justified if the organization had to pay the cost of the 300,000 people it has sheltered. But FEMA and the affected states are reimbursing the Red Cross under preexisting contracts for emergency shelter and other disaster services. The existence of these contracts is no secret to anyone but the American public. The Red Cross carefully says it functions only by the grace of the American people — but "people" includes government, national and local. What we've now come to expect from a major disaster is a Red Cross media blitz.

The national Red Cross reports it spent $111 million last year on fundraising alone. ...


There's all the money those churches need. FEMA gives to the Red Cross, and we also give to the Red Cross. Let them get the money from the Red Cross--a horribly wasteful organization.
posted by amberglow at 7:58 PM on September 27, 2005


I'm not making "statements like that". I made very specific statements. Making a character judgment based on an inference like that shows a lack of basic reading comprehension.

So, you read an article (I would hope, at least) that says that "This is not a decision to create a special program for churches; this is a decision not to exclude churches from a program that already exists."; you automatically make a prediction that wealthy churches will use this to fill their pockets (without precedence, I might add; when did wealthy churches do anything of this nature during a crisis?) and I'm the one who lacks reading comprehension? Get a grip.

Let them get the money from the Red Cross--a horribly wasteful organization.

Wouldn't that just mean the money's going through more hands than are necessary and wasting more time and money, though?
posted by dflemingdotorg at 9:32 AM on September 28, 2005


when did wealthy churches do anything of this nature during a crisis?)

Surely you joke.

and I'm the one who lacks reading comprehension?

Yes.

And nothing I have written has warranted your personal attacks. Mellow the fuck out.
posted by solid-one-love at 10:25 AM on September 28, 2005


Is it just me, or is starting to look like the Red Cross exists solely to line its own pockets? The amount of money they're giving out is a pittance compared to the amount they're taking in. Where the hell does it all go?
posted by five fresh fish at 11:08 AM on September 28, 2005


Surely you joke.

Ah. No evidence, just prejudice.

And nothing I have written has warranted your personal attacks. Mellow the fuck out.

You better do that, otherwise he might report you to the RCMP!
posted by Snyder at 5:34 PM on September 28, 2005


I'm sorry, solid-one-love, and to everyone else, what I wrote was uncalled for and inappropiate. I should learn to consider my posts better.
posted by Snyder at 5:37 PM on September 28, 2005


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