HUD money for Churches
January 27, 2003 10:24 PM   Subscribe

HUD money for poor now earmarked for religious buildings. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, says "The 'faith-based initiative' was bad enough, but now Bush wants taxpayers to foot the bill for church expansion projects. This policy is outrageous as well as patently unconstitutional; it is bound to spark litigation." [ACLU article here]
posted by skallas (26 comments total)
This is an article published by Americans United about an analysis made by members of Americans United. If what they say is true, it's pretty bad, but with journalistic standards like that I have no reason to trust them.
posted by Hildago at 10:31 PM on January 27, 2003

never mind.
posted by Hildago at 10:32 PM on January 27, 2003

This looks like a fairly standard limited-open-forum question to me. I don't know what past practice was, and the articles are both dodgy about it, but:

*IF* past practice was to allow a secular organization to obtain partial funding for a building that would partially serve some social-welfare function -- a Kiwanis lodge that also does *useful foo* every Thursday in its basement -- then this seems like a good law to me. You don't get to pick and choose -- either you partially fund all comers, neutrally and without regard to the religious or secular content of their speech, or you don't fund anybody's.

Personally, I'd rather not help to build Kiwanis lodges or churches, but you can't pick. Both or neither. A flat ban on allowing religious institutions to apply for this sort of grant seems facie violative of free expression.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:48 PM on January 27, 2003

America is the most religious of all industrialized nations because of, not in spite of the constitutional separation of church and state. The mixing of the two brings forth problems that damage both institutions. Those that cherish their faith and their Republic will frown upon Bush's irresponsible method of satisfying his ultra right base.
posted by EmoChild at 11:22 PM on January 27, 2003

I get tired of people who claim either of these two things:

1) we live in a democracy
2) the separation of church and state is in the constitution

Of course, both of these are quite frequently claimed. I fully believe that church and state need separated, but it is still NOT in the constitution...
posted by woil at 1:28 AM on January 28, 2003

rapacious patricians hosing the nation isn't in the constitution either, and yet, there he is... big as life!
posted by quonsar at 4:20 AM on January 28, 2003

It's all cool with me, just as long as the 'Faith Based Initiative' folks lay some $ on me for my new "Church of the sacred Peyote eaters"
posted by troutfishing at 4:45 AM on January 28, 2003

What emo said.

I get tired of people who claim either of these two things:

1) we live in a democracy
2) the separation of church and state is in the constitution

Sorry to have to burst your bubble but we do live in a democracy (or at least we used to) and is more commonly known as a democratic republic. This has been covered thoroughly in previous threads. And perhaps you and I read things differently regarding the amendments but my interpretation clearly calls for a delineation of church and state.

I can hardly wait to see the Koresh compound rebuilt with federal funds and the Nation of Islam get the lion's share of this welfare.
posted by nofundy at 4:47 AM on January 28, 2003

I know this is tacky, but aren't terrorists undertaking in "Faith based initiatives"?
posted by CrazyJub at 4:47 AM on January 28, 2003

and maybe they'll help out with this cool 'cannibal church' idea I got from a really cool German guy who loved to cook...
posted by troutfishing at 4:48 AM on January 28, 2003

CrazyJub - What the HELL are you talkin' about? The 'Faith Based Initiative' can't fund foreign terrorists. Just AMERICAN ones. Get that straight!
posted by troutfishing at 4:53 AM on January 28, 2003

I cringe whenever I hear Bush talk about funding "faith-based" initiatives thinking that it really means a FAT check in the collection plate, yet somehow I'm not so frightened of this plan. Seems to me that there could be plenty of ways in the way the policy and law is written that would somehow be different than footing the bill for the expansion of some "Fort God" Third Southern Baptist Church or Our Lady of Perpetual Motion. As long as the wording includes funding for buildings that "primarily" serve as places where social services are offered, I could care less if somebody wants to pray there too. The Salvation Army after all does a lot of good works without a dime of Government money (being a religious organization) and the government helping to pay for a new battered women's shelter or soup kitchen or drug treatment center where people also happen to have a Wednesday prayer meeting doesn't sound all that terrible. Sure there is potential for abuse, but we need not look at this a purely black or white issue.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:21 AM on January 28, 2003

The Internal Revenue Service will be the Southern Baptist collection plate of the future.

Somewhere Falwell and Robertson are smiling.

Will the Moonies get their fair share to build a new Washington Times edifice?
posted by nofundy at 8:10 AM on January 28, 2003

It is NOT unconstitutional!

In the school choice ruling handed down last year, the Supreme Court held that religious organizations are fully entitled to apply for and receive government funding for activities the government wishes to subsidize on the same basis as non-religious funding. If "facilities for social services" is something the government wishes to subsidize, than a church is just as entitled to apply for that subsidy as any other organization.
posted by MattD at 8:12 AM on January 28, 2003

MattD - I KNOW! it......distastefull?
posted by troutfishing at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2003

As an example of why I don't see this as all bad, I know of a large urban church that used to have a rather large attached building that had formerly been a monastery. The nuns and monks had all died off or moved on to other monasteries. Here, in the middle of the inner city was a large dormitory type building with classroom and meeting space, that with a little bit of fixing up and code updating the church could turn into a shelter for battered women. It took them forever to get the shelter up, with government funding for the repairs, the building could have been running years sooner and at a higher capacity. I can't really see why that's so bad.

Another example, my high school was a boarding school formerly operated by monks in the appalachian mountains. When the local sheriff would come across under privileged families he would take (with the parent's permission) the boys to the monks who would raise and educate the kids. Many of the kids went on to be quite successful, the poet James Agee for example. There again is an example of church and state functioning together for the common good.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:51 AM on January 28, 2003

Pollomacho - I seem to remember that, during the Medieval period in Europe, as much as 20% of the general population lived under the "roof" (and the social welfare system) of the Catholic Church, in monasteries, nunneries and so on. It was a bit better than being a serf. Maybe we're moving back in that direction? With this "seismic" income redistribution going on, we'll have plenty of serfs in the US soon. as long as the Catholic Church doesn't have to sell off all it's real estate assets to pay the plaintiffs in lawsuits against all those priestly "indiscretions"....
posted by troutfishing at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2003

That would be great as long as I get to be a feudal lord! No, I'm with you on this most of the time, hell, I wish they'd pull "under God" from the pledge (the part I mouth through without saying) and the "In God We Trust" from the damn money. But I do think that Duh-bya has a point on this one, that private charities and particularly religious groups do a hell of a lot better when it comes to running social welfare programs than does the federal government. I am certainly scared that giving them one dime threatens the whole divide, but somehow we need to learn how to do it like the churches do.

The church eventually ends up owning everything anyway until a revolution redistributes the land (see Spanish Civil War, Mexican Revolution, Protestant Reformation, etc. for examples), so why not help it along?

PS- did I just say we should learn to do it like they do in churches?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:34 AM on January 28, 2003

It's all cool with me, just as long as the 'Faith Based Initiative' folks lay some $ on me for my new "Church of the sacred Peyote eaters" posted by troutfishing

Dude! Can I be a high priestess, can I please?
posted by dejah420 at 2:04 PM on January 28, 2003

Pollomacho - Or we should learn to do it like the 16th century Maya? With Tapirs! (see MiguelCardoso's post)

No, seriously now *furrows brow, strokes fuzz on chin* - I don't really care if religious groups get gov. $ - just as long as the doling out of the funds is more or less equitable. The problem I can see is that Christian churches (both Catholic and Protestant) are much more entrenched to begin with: they have the existing fatilities, while this may not be as true for newer faiths (and sects, or even nice, meek cults) which have just recently gained a toehold in the US but represent fairly large numbers of Americans.

I wonder how many federal millions Islamic groups in the USA will get? Nation of Islam?

I'm not opposed in principle, but the devil's in the details, and the detail devil in this case is a mean one. The idea seems like a legal, and an "equitable distribution", minefield to me.
posted by troutfishing at 2:18 PM on January 28, 2003

I think its all in the semantics. The letter of the law can specify what the funding can and cannot be used for. No bling-bling for the alter (ie. Bleeding Jesus Crucifix, etc.) or expansion of the actual church building, but cash for actual social services buildings (daycare, shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, drug treatment, youth centers, etc. all the good things churches [and mosques and synagogues] do better than the fed)
posted by Pollomacho at 2:34 PM on January 28, 2003

Earlier in this term, President Bush removed funding for international planned parenthood agencies that included abortion under their umbrella. Even though the agencies said they would not use the funds to promote abortion, the reasoning from the White House was that the funds would free up other money that could be used for that purpose. I don't understand why that line of reasoning does not apply to the faith-based initiatives.
posted by joaquim at 2:38 PM on January 28, 2003

Pollomacho - I still think the Devil's in the details...

Joaquim - "The President considers this nation to be at war,'' a White House source says,'' and, as such, considers any opposition to his policies to be no less than an act of treason.''

You wouldn't be acting treasonous would you, questioning Bush admistration policies? Hmmmm.......  
posted by troutfishing at 2:56 PM on January 28, 2003

(Also reported by the New York Times last week.)
posted by mattpfeff at 3:05 PM on January 28, 2003

joaquim- excellent point.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:58 PM on January 28, 2003

Sorry to have to burst your bubble but we do live in a democracy (or at least we used to) and is more commonly known as a democratic republic. This has been covered thoroughly in previous threads.

... In which it was pretty much agreed upon that we do not live in a democracy, but in a republic.
posted by Hildago at 10:26 PM on January 28, 2003

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