We've railed on this blog before about how faith-based initiatives funded by
public money are a horrible idea. But there are people actually going through
this with their own jobs.
By "going through this" I mean that there is religious discrimination going on.
This all started when Bush started to blur the lines that faith-based
organizations used to use to keep public money from funding programs that push
Before Bush upended things, religious groups had always been enlisted by
government as providers of social services. They just had to wholly separate
their religious mission from their government-funded services. Under Bush,
there has been substantial blurring of the line.
As to hiring, the law always allowed religious groups to discriminate on
religious grounds - so that the Catholic Church could hire Catholic priests,
for example - but that exemption did not extend to employees hired with public
funds to provide social welfare. It was a simple, clear rule. If you took
public money, you hired on the basis of merit, not piety.
But Bush wiped away this calibrated distinction by issuing a series of
executive orders early in his presidency approving taxpayer financed religious
In the above article, Robyn Blumner also writes about Anne Lown, hwo had worked
for the Salvation Army for 24 years while the organization had well-defined
lines separating evangelism from social services. But with Bush's new rules she
describes being asked to complete a form...
asking for list of churches she attended over the last 10 years and
the name of her present minister. Lown says she was told that indicating "not
applicable" was not an option.
There's a rude awakening for you.
If this article is too much opinion for you, you can always refer to the General
Accounting Office report.
"This report shows that the Bush
administration has sent billions of taxpayer dollars to religious organizations
without accountability for how that money is spent," said Stark [...]
The GAO report found that federal agencies
administering the faith-based initiative are not informing religious
organizations of their anti-discrimination responsibilities under the law. [...]
The GAO report also found that 70 percent of
the agencies it reviewed did not provide information on permissible hiring
practices to grantees. [...]
[F]ive years into the initiative, the GAO
report finds that the government has not examined whether programs administered
by religious organizations are improving participant outcomes.
According to the study, agencies have not
completed - or even begun - outcome-based evaluations of most of the faith-based
programs they fund.
Opening the door to discriminatory practices and at the same time ignoring the
need for accountability. The people who run this administration talk a good
game, but when it comes to accountability it's amazing how the buck doesn't just
get passed. It plain gets lost in the shell game of government. Feel free to
read the whole GAO report.
On the Flipside
If this worries you, if you're concerned about how this tax money is being
spent, if you think that it may be going to spreading religion rather than
helping people in some cases, and if you're worried that discriminatory
practices are being funded by tax money, you're not alone.
In fact, I posted this story to Reddit on Tuesday morning and it
to the top of the front page (from up-votes placed by people who thought it
was an important story.) Reddit is a merit-based link aggregation site, and this
was the first time I'd posted a link and had it even come close to being the #1
link. So "redditors" were interested. But they aren't the only ones.
You might be surprised to learn that Jerry Falwell is worried! You won't be when
you read why, sadly.
Pardon my language, but no shit, Sherlock.
If you can get by his religious discrimination, what he's saying makes
some sense; but you have to apply it to all religious organizations. I'm
concerned about all the evangelizing that may go on using money that could
have been helping people. But Falwell doesn't see this until he looks up while
taking a break from kissing the president's rump. News Flash, Jerry. Maybe the
idea wasn't so good after all.
(P.S. A detailed story on what has gone on in the so-called "Battle of 14th
Street" Salvation Army case is available in this publication. It's worth it if
just to get to read the phrase: The road to
Hell is full of good people.You go, religious guy!) Posted by James at August 16, 2006 12:22 AM