Faith-based initiative gets major push, puts hiring decisions in organizations' hands, and goes international
Critics of President Bush's faith-based initiative painted an apocalyptic picture of Talibanization and funding of religious hatred. "In essence, the government is going to be funding religious discrimination," says Americans United for Separation of Church and State spokesman Joe Conn.
The White House not only denies such scenarios, of course, but says some faith-based organizations are already facing nightmares of their own. The Victory Center Rescue Mission in Iowa was told it would lose $100,000 in federal funds because its board wasn't secular enough, the Associated Press reports. And officials told the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty in New York that it was forbidden from even applying for funds because it has the word Jewish in its name. Religious nonprofits, including soup kitchens and relief organizations, were even denied Federal Emergency Management Agency funds after natural disasters.
Faith-based organizations help the poor—and are usually better at it than organizations that aren't faith-based. So if we really want to help the poor with government funds, why not allow faith-based organizations to use them too? That has always been the basic principle behind Bush's initiative. "The president believes the federal government can remove barriers that prevent faith-based and grassroots groups from doing more to help Americans in need," an unnamed administration official told Reuters.
And since the Senate couldn't even pass a bad version of the bill Bush requested, let alone a good one, Bush has decided to leave Congress to its own devices and expand religious organizations' options through executive ...1
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