Bush Faith-Based Plan Requires an Overhaul

A proposal to keep public attention focused on faith-based groups without diluting their religious mission.

BY: Pat Robertson

(USA Today, March 5) Throughout U.S. history, faith-based organizations have had an exemplary record of community service. Their work is efficient, lasting and accomplished with an economy of scale the federal government is unable to emulate.

The faith-based initiative proposed by President Bush is an official acknowledgment of the tremendous role these institutions play in society. But it would create some disturbing problems unless it is modified -- as it easily can be.

The genius of faith-based organizations lies in their religious mission. For instance:

  • Teen Challenge achieves a remarkable 80% cure rate for teenage drug addicts because it leads young people to faith in Jesus Christ and then painstakingly instructs them in biblical principals of Christian living.

  • Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries achieves equally startling results with released prison inmates for the same reason: Faith in Christ, plus a network of loving Christian support groups, is what keeps those in its programs out of jail at far higher rates than those who only received secular assistance.

  • Catholic schools provide better educations in many inner cities, not only because of superior pedagogy, but also because of the strong Christian moral teaching and discipline that pervade Catholic schools.

    Here is the problem with government-assisted faith-based charity: If government provides funding to thousands of faith-based institutions but, under a tortured definition of separation of church and state, demands in return that those institutions give up their unique religious activities, then not only the effectiveness of these institutions, but also possibly their very raison d'être may be lost.

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