Falwell: 'Deep Concerns'
Falwell hopes Islam can be excluded.Beliefnet's Religion producer. Listen to a portion of the interview here.
On faith-based initiatives:
I have deep concerns about the faith-based initiatives--but I am in support. Mr. Bush has thought this out. What they have in mind is totally valid and acceptable. My problem is not with the intentions of the Bush presidency. My problem is where it might go under his successors.
I have pastored the same church 45 years, and I’ve served as chancellor of Liberty University and was the founder for the past 30 years and...we have never accepted any government grants or funding, whether federal, state, or local. We have done that by design so we could never be challenged regarding our philosophy and our practices. It is doubtful that we will ever apply for any assistance under the faith-based initiatives, as Mr. Bush has proposed them. I may change that once I have seen enough years of safety and consistency with no strings attached, but at the present moment I would not want to put any of the Jerry Falwell Ministries in a position where we might be subservient to a future Bill Clinton, God forbid.
It also concerns me that once the pork barrel is filled, suddenly the Church of Scientology, the Jehovah Witnesses, the various and many denominations and religious groups--and I don’t say those words in a pejorative way--begin applying for money--and I don’t see how any can be turned down because of their radical and unpopular views. I don’t know where that would take us.
And third, I maintain faith-based [grants] should be restricted to those organizations that have already been doing a measurable, qualitative work among the poor, in the prisons, and in the inner cities. I don’t think religious groups should be allowed to apply for federal funds to start new ministries they have not been doing before the funding was available.