Faith based charitable organizations have always been an integral part of our nation and in many respects have actually shaped us and our nation. The “Saint” in St. Joseph’s Hospital came from religion. How about the Salvation Army? You guessed it, God’s army forwarding the message of salvation while attending to the needs of the poor. Personally, as foster parents, we’ve had more than one child use the services of the Bellingham CCS. CCS? Yes, Catholic Community Services (CCS), it sounds a bit faith-ish doesn’t it.
In 2001, President Bush established the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives whose purpose was to improve the effectiveness of our government toward helping people in need. This is done by distributing federal funds through the already robust network of faith based community service organizations. There were a few provisions put into the initiative that made sure that organizations provided services regardless of the religion, or lack of, of those in need. And also provision to maintain a separation bwtweenactivities aimed at providing services and inherently religious activities like a worship service.
What makes these organizations so much more effective than government agencies is that they are usually very locally oriented, serving one on one with those in need and they are staffed by like minded and like faith people who are serving God by serving their fellow man. It is their faith that demands they serve and their faith that binds them as a group; they are faith based, based in faith.
So it’s all good in the ‘hood. Right? Well no, it’s actually not. Something is desperately wrong.
What’s wrong, is that one presidential candidate by the name of Barack Obama, aims to strip faith from faith based organizations who wish to use federal funds to help those in need. In a speech last week, Sen. Obama outlined rules already in the program and one more that is not.
“First,” he said, “if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help, and you can’t discriminate against them — or against the people you hire — on the basis of their religion.”
The last few words, “or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion” as pointed out in the NY times article, means that faith based groups using federal funds will either have to give up helping others with those funds or give up their faith base. Either way, people of faith lose out and people in need lose out, while the perpetrator of this great deception looks on the surface as if he is supportive of faith and faith base organizations.
If a faith based group cannot choose to hire only those with whom they share a common faith, then what will bind these groups together? What is a faith based group with out a faith base? Without faith, they are a simply a secular government program. Yes, no longer a highly motivated faith based organization, just another high dollar, low effectiveness government social program.
Will faith based organizations deny their faith for government money? I pray not. Will the perpetrator of this great deception be elected as our president? I pray not.
Thanks to Victoria Taft for drawing my attention to this deceit.