There's a conspiracy afoot, says the front page of today's Washington Post.The Salvation Army has worked out a deal with the White House to publicly support and lobby for the faith-based initiative in exchange for a regulation allowing it to (dum-dum-duuuuuuum) discriminate against homosexuals. That's the Post's take, anyway. A leaked memo suggests that the White House will issue a new federal regulation—after the charitable choice legislation makes it through Congress—guaranteeing that local governments can't mandate the hiring of homosexuals by religious charities and churches. "The document offers a rare glimpse into the private dealings of the Bush White House, and it suggests President Bush is willing to achieve through regulation ends too controversial to survive the legislative process," Dana Milbank writes sinisterly. "It also underscores the close allegiance between the administration and conservative groups."
Milbank makes a couple of brief references to the Army's "theological foundation," but doesn't note that it isn't a charity, it's a church—with actual beliefs and doctrines, including a long-time opposition to homosexual behavior. Even more importantly, the Army was founded out of a concern for both moral and social decay. Hmm, where was it that Weblog recently read, "Few people realize that the Salvation Army is an evangelical Protestant denomination of more than a million members in 107 countries, with its own creed, ordained clergy, seminaries and spiritual mission: 'To preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination"? Where was that? Oh yeah! The front page of The Washington Post, about seven months ago!
The Salvation Army isn't on a crusade to discriminate against homosexuals. It simply wants to guarantee that accepting government funds—which it already receives—won't mean changing its character. Being forced to hire people whose beliefs and actions are wholly inconsistent with the teachings of the church will change its character. Milbank dutifully notes that the 1996 welfare reform law and 1964 Civil Rights Act permits religious organizations to hire only employees who share their religious commitments. But the Post simply won't accept that one can oppose homosexual behavior on religious grounds. To them, it's all bigotry, plain and simple.
Moscow keeps trying to shut down the Salvation Army
Speaking of religious bigotry and the Salvation Army, a trial date has been set in Moscow to resolve conflicts between the church and city. There's a long history here, but the latest development is that the city's Justice Ministry claims the Salvation Army missed the December 31 deadline to register with the government, so it should be closed. "We do not reject anyone for ideological considerations," Justice Ministry official Vladimir Zhbankov told Interfax. The main thing for us is observance of our laws." That's just baloney. The reason the Salvation Army in Moscow "missed" its registration deadline is because the Justice Ministry rejected its application! The trial is scheduled to begin September 11.
Teen Challenge: in or out?
Back to charitable choice for a moment. Weblog has recently wondered how long it has been since groups that indelibly integrate evangelism throughout their social ministry have been excluded from Bush's faith-based initiative. Was it when DiIulio started talking about vouchers at the National Association of Evangelicals gathering? Or was it when H.R. 7 was amended? According to a Weekly Standard article by Charles Colson and Michael Novak, the groups may still be in the game. After again lauding such groups as Teen Challenge, they note that even the very religious drug treatment program "can put government cash towards computer training, but not communion wafers. … Faith-based groups can and do segregate funds. Indeed, it is in their own interest to keep government and church separate from each other."
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