Clinton called this practice “charitable choice” , so I have to hand it to him as far as messaging. “Faith-based initiatives” is a little clunky.
President Clinton signed legislation that opened the door for faith-based groups to play a role in a number of areas, including helping people move from welfare to work. Al Gore proposed a partnership between Washington and faith-based groups to provide more support for the least of these. And President Bush came into office with a promise to “rally the armies of compassion,” establishing a new Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
But an analysis by POLITICO found that at least $140 million in stimulus money has gone to faith-based groups, the result of an unpublicized White House decision to spend government money, where legal, supporting religiously inspired nonprofit groups. And that decision was just the beginning.
Unlike Obama, Bush, Clinton and Gore, I’m not comfortable with faith-based initiative funding. I thought it was barely acceptable when religious had to create a secular non-profit to get federal grants, and keep the two entities wholly separate, and they no longer have to to do that. I like a wall.
I have a whole laundry list of objections, everything from concerns about preferential treatment being given to the “popular” religions, to honest confusion about why it was such a huge outrage that ACORN, a secular social services and civil rights organization was (partly) federally funded, with no mention of the fact that we pour hundreds of millions into Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services, and all the rest. I don’t know why people who object to Big Government aren’t secretly filming those low-level workers. I don’t see a bit of difference between ACORN and a religious organization that operates with federal funds. Makes me wonder.
Those are my concerns. But, are there objections or concerns about this the other way, from religious? Any fear that religious (or religion) might be captured and lose the traditional role as independent from government if they’re lining up with every other lobbyist for grants and funding?
Maybe this is a poor comparison but I’m sometimes paid by the county to defend an individual who is being prosecuted by the county, and I don’t feel I’m compromised or captured there, so I’m willing to accept that it’s not a concern, that religious can retain independence (or even opposition to federal policy) while relying on federal funding.