Return of Bush's Faith Based Initiatives
August 31, 2002 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Return of Bush's Faith Based Initiatives "So the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives is pursuing a new agenda that does not depend on the consent of Congress, starting with the development of proposals to change a host of federal regulations to lower the barriers encountered by religious groups in dealing with the federal government." Kind of surprising this was leaked out before the November elections, because much like how social security privatization has been downplayed due to unpopularity ("My social security was in Enron??") - it's intriguing campaign fodder.
posted by owillis (10 comments total)
OK, so this is US-centric, I may be ignorant on some finer points, but this quote fron GWB confuses me:
Bush said during a speech in Milwaukee in July "...The federal government should not ask, ‘Does your organization believe in God?’ That’s not the question they ought to ask. They ought to ask, ‘Does your program work? Are you saving lives? Are you making a difference in people’s lives?’”
Further, "the administration plans to hold at least five sessions of a “White House Conference on the Faith-Based and Community Initiative,” each paid for by one of the five departments that includes a faith-based office.
So, is it irrelevant (as in the first quote) or is it crucial (as in 'How to get invited to the Conference', in the 2nd quote)?
posted by dash_slot- at 9:58 PM on August 31, 2002

I mean, is it true, as some seem to fear, that back-door discrimination in hiring is an aim, or that there just aren't enough non-denominational distribution orgs to do a job the government thinks is worth doing [and could do themselves without involving a putative g-d]?
posted by dash_slot- at 9:59 PM on August 31, 2002

It's his last hurrah as far as shoring up popular support come his demise in 2004. Get the ears of the parishoners. Every Sunday, no distractions, full access to the idle and obedient mind. Form an army of lockstep voters with loud to violent programming capable of defusing any dissenter's rally or plea. Divide the people and conquer them.

This is the only point of allowing religion back into politics.
posted by crasspastor at 10:13 PM on August 31, 2002

Cool! Fellow liberals, cleave to your faith in anarchy and Krishna. Thanks to non-partisan federal funding, the Hare Krishnas and Food Not Bombs will be able to buy as much food for their free meals as their volunteers can manage to prepare. Maybe we'll replace fast food chains in urban areas with Hindu-style free prasadam lunches someday ...
posted by sheauga at 6:20 AM on September 1, 2002

Basically, we're talking about giving churches the same access to funds as a non-profit organization providing community services. If religious organizations are so keen on providing such services, why not have the interested portion of their membership simply form an independent non-profit agency to do so? Why does the church itself have to serve as the agency? I despise religious groups, and feel we should repeal their tax-exempt status, but I would have no problem with an religious-supported organization receiving such funds if (1) the financial relationship between the church and service organization was such that money could flow from the church to the agency, but not vice versa; (2) that the service organization resources cannot be recruited to do work for the church (including recruitment and propaganda); (3) that while the church can maintain discriminatory practices as previously set forth, the agency, as an independent organization, must follow the same anti-discriminatory practices required of other agencies receiving funding (rather than Bush's ridiculous idea of allowing discrimination in faith-based programs).

Between this, the currrent effort to turn religious groups into PACs, and the passivity of most Americans, who overwhelmingly profess religious belief while lacking engagement in religious practice (I personally believe most are atheists and are just bullied into declaring some belief system, like how Bush found christ only after going through his booze-and-coke phase), even as much as we criticize the establishment of Islamic-based governments, I think we're headed into pretty creepy territory ourselves.
posted by troybob at 9:03 AM on September 1, 2002

what troybob said....especially in terms of the discriminatory hiring practices...

there are also issues with other federal regulations--would a church-run soup kitchen or housing for the homeless receiving federal money have to abide by the same hygiene and other inspections and codes and standards that other non-profits do? (i'm not sure that they do now)

and when did Bush set up faith-based offices in those governmental departments listed in the article? Doesn't that conflict with separation of church and state in a way itself? Are those offices receiving a part of the budget allocated to the departments?
posted by amberglow at 9:44 AM on September 1, 2002

The only idea that's passed Bush's lips on this whole subject that I agree with, is the idea of letting people who don't itemize their expenses still claim charitable donations. About which we haven't heard a damned thing since the campaign... we got our $300 checks and the legacy of a bigger deficit instead.

I'm pretty much opposed to anything Bush wants to propose about religion. I don't trust him not to hose it for minority religions, atheists, maybe even the big religions for that matter.
posted by Foosnark at 10:01 AM on September 1, 2002

(twisted amerika scenario 1#)

Local wild-eyed charity czar: "Yeah, bottle return bins for the homeless, we will take all of them, and for a small fee, we will give them cash...yeah 10 cents a return, we take a 10% admin fee, we can set up can and bottle return centers near places of conveyance like the downtown 'Y'. The bus depot is good...."

Minion: "sir, what about selling 100% fruit juices that Bottlebur makes in Nextownover. those orphans make a bang up juice chief. How about their Vending machines in schools?..."

LWECC: ..."WHAT, in our....schools?" ("transfer" this one, baxter)

Baxter: "yes sir".
posted by clavdivs at 10:21 AM on September 1, 2002

i don't mean to derail anything. an owillis post is always a page turner. seems to me the gist of this faith based thingie is a cash flow transfer. peter paying paul...oops. as an example, the Catholic church. Would they recieve federal funds to bolster there own vast network? (a good network for it's faults)
posted by clavdivs at 10:34 AM on September 1, 2002

My biggest problem with the whole faith-based initiative program, other than separation of church and state issue, is that the program allows federal government to quietly back out of doing the activities that it should be doing. The faith-based initiative is just a later day name for block grants to the states.
posted by Bag Man at 12:02 PM on September 1, 2002

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