When President Bush announced his faith-based initiatives program, I was completely against it. Now, Barack Obama wants to expand on it:
The presumed Democratic presidential nominee said he would make it easier for churches and small community groups to win grants and would spend $500 million to help schools and churches run summer reading programs.
Obama delivered his speech at the Eastside Community Ministry in this key battleground state, home to many of the religious voters who backed Bush. With his proposal, the Illinois senator embraced a theme that has been closely associated with Republicans — and one that has drawn scorn from many Democrats and civil liberties groups who believe it infringes church-state separation.
“I know there are some who bristle at the notion that faith has a place in the public square,” Obama said. “But the fact is, leaders in both parties have recognized the value of a partnership between the White House and faith-based groups.”
Bristle? How about thinking it’s scary? Here’s why:
There are church organizations who spend a lot of money on activities many people find repugnant (anti-gay, anti-choice, etc) We’re reassured that under these faith-based initiative grants, religious organizations aren’t allowed to spend money on crap like this, right? We’re told it will go toward helping religious organizations fund soup kitchens, clothing programs, and all the good things that I support and think churches should be doing.
Let’s say a particularly repugnant religious organization has a budget of around a million dollars a year. For years, they’ve put 100k of that into fighting against marriage equality and employment protections for gay people. They’re left with 900k for salaries and programs. With faith-based initiative funding from you and me, this organization gets a grant of 50k to operate a shelter and soup kitchen. I have no doubt that most groups would spend that money well, expanding the shelter perhaps, or even offering new programs.
But what about groups like Focus on the
Anus Family and the American anti-Family Association? Do you think they’d do that? Well, maybe. My guess thoough is that organizations associate with these groups would use the 50k to supplement their charity work. What does that leave? It leaves them an extra 50k in their budgets for their “other work.”
I know most religious groups do great work. I have my issues with the Salvation Army, for example, but I know that, for the most part, it is a very respectable organization. It’s the one’s that aren’t that I worry about. It’s the ones who spend millions a year on anti-gay, anti-choice lobbying that make me oppose anything like faith-based initiative funding.
Barack Obama is pandering here. I don’t know what else to call it. I just see it as a dangerous move by someone trying to make inroads with a community that’s not going to vote for him anyway.
[Obama] signaled he would not fund church groups that make hiring decisions based on an applicant’s religion and would make sure federal money was not used to proselytize.
Tell me how. When you give a group 50k, and it spends the entire thing on its shelter and food program, how are you going to prove or disprove that that 50k didn’t offset these other, disgusting activities. There’s no way.
“We got 50k from the government! That frees up 50k in our budget for that ballot initiative we need to pass!”
Woo-hoo. I can’t wait to see what else Obama has to offer.