Re: w. supports his privates

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Date: Wed Jan 31 2001 - 06:19:53 PST

In a message dated 1/31/01 8:05:46 AM, writes:

>>i think federal funding of tried-and-true faith-based programs in
>>churches, mosques, synagogues and agencies is a GREAT idea - many of
>>these have been in place for decades doing a phenominal job.
>It's great for those who are faith-based people.

funding social work through "faith based organizations" is a terrible thing
... for faith. There is no public money without strings attached. The strings
here are obvious: You can't deliver services with federal funds that are
religious in nature; you have to deliver them to all people regardless of
creed, for example; if you want to practice your religion, do it somewhere
other than in your good deeds (but it sez here, "let your light so shine
before all men that they will see your works," but never let them know why).
Further, what the landlord giveth, the landlord taketh away. Do you, man or
woman of God, want your budget determined by Washington? In His 30 days in
the wilderness, Christ was taken to a high place by Satan, who showed him the
world, and offered it to him: Here--here's my support. Think of all the good
things you could do., Think of the hunger you could satisfy, the naked loins
you could gird. Think of the wealth and good work you could perform. We know
what His reply was, and what any truly faith-based organization's reply
should be to this temptation.

Tell me, Mr. Bishop, Rev. Dr Whomever, Rabbi Whatchamacallet, Cardinal
O'Whateveryrnameis: When someone in your faith-based organization embezzles
or even mis-manages an operation where taxpayer money is involved--and
someone will, since after all they do it now when the money isn't manna from
Washington--when there's an embarrassing little contretemps, how will you
feel about having GAO auditors poring through all your files just to make
sure that not a nickle of that money you spent on bread actually went to buy
communion wafers? What will you think about being brought to Washington for a
hearing where you will have to account for it all? Because, you know, it will
happen--and there might be a little problem with your tax-exmpt status if the
answers aren't right.

There's a reason religion's stronger and more vital in the US than anywhere
else in the world, and it's that the government doens't pollute it with
partisan (or even non partisan) stuff. There's a reason (read Braudel's
history of civilizations and Norwich on Byzantium and Robert Kaplan on the
Balkans) that the eastern Church lined up on the wrong side of the Great
Schism when it comes to chruch and state--wrong for its own sake.

Finally, the supposed efficacy of "faith'-based" charity is, I suspect, a
charade: First, there's lots of volunteer labor (i.e. people who do work for
below minimum wage--this might become a problem). Second, no one looks
closely or audits the claims faith-based organizations make; yes, there are
checks to make sure that charities don't line their own pockets too much, but
I mean performance audits. I suspect there's exagerrating and
double-counting--Catholic Charities claims jane Doe as a success story, and
so does the Salvation Army, and Jane's meanwhile back on the Bowery. I
haven't seen any truly convincing evidence thast these are fabulously
efficient at scale, either. They tend to have two advatnages, small scale and
the right to pick their clientele. For example, the 10 homeless people who
use the shelter at our church are selected by an agency, to make sure that
they are in reasonable mental health. Scale it up--give us lots of federal
money, give us, even, the money to build the government-inspeicted
facility--and tell us we can now shelter 100 people a night instead of 10,
and if we take the bait we'll start to have problems that are remarkably like
those public shelters have.

And, as the Man said, you can't serve both God and Mammon. Go ahead, take a
hundred grand in federal money. Now: When you think a federal policy is
morally wrong, are you going to speak from your faith or from your billfold?


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