God's Politics

God's Politics


Mary Nelson: Faith-Based Initiative Survives Supreme Court Case

posted by God's Politics

The most recent challenge to Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives was rejected by the Supreme Court (5-4) this week, not on the basis of merit, but on the basis that the Freedom from Religion Foundation didn’t have standing to sue the Bush Administration to halt the expenditures of the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. For those of us working with faith-based community initiatives in the trenches, we are unmoved by this ongoing church and state debate. Rather, we see the cruel impact of the constant cutting back of funds to help deal with the impact of low wages, lack of health care, and the use of prisons as a housing program.
At issue, in the narrow scope, was the 39-year-old exception (Flast vs. Cohen) to the general rule that taxpayers do not have standing to challenge spending on programs that they believe promote religion. The Court’s ruling, in Judge Alito’s opinion, leaves Flast “as it is,” but narrows the application.
The separation of church and state groups have vowed to continue. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, is quoted in a Washington Times article saying, “the legal assault on the constitutionality of the faith-based programs will continue.”
Some of the barriers applied by the government that made it difficult to incorporate one’s faith motivations have been removed, but so have most of the federal funds for the programs that would make a difference. So it is a cruel hoax to spend so much money running conferences encouraging faith-based groups to apply for federal funds that are not there. Energy should be spent instead on changing priorities to promoting “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” for all Americans.
Mary Nelson is president emeritus of Bethel New Life, a faith-based community development corporation on the west side of Chicago. She is also a board member of Sojourners/Call to Renewal.



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 8:17 pm


I’ve read some essays highly critical of the Bush faith based program on its overall performance and effectiveness.
Some criticisms are: Funding has been shifted from government run agencies to faith based organizations.
The total overall funding for social programs – government and faith based – has been significantly reduced.
As a result government programs proven to be successful are being starved while some unproven faith based organizations have received generous funding from the Bush Administration.
The administrative overhead for the Bush Faith based Initiative is excessive.
Mary Nelson states, “So it is a cruel hoax to spend so much money running conferences encouraging faith-based groups to apply for federal funds that are not there.”
I’m hearing that government agencies are proving to be more effective than faith based programs in delivering services to the needy.
Did I get that wrong?



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justintime

posted June 28, 2007 at 8:25 pm


I’ve read some essays highly critical of the Bush faith based program on its overall performance and effectiveness.
Some criticisms are: Funding has been shifted from government run agencies to faith based organizations.
The total overall funding for social programs – government and faith based – has been significantly reduced.
As a result government programs proven to be successful are being starved while some unproven faith based organizations have received generous funding from the Bush Administration.
The administrative overhead for the Bush Faith based Initiative is excessive.
Mary Nelson states, “So it is a cruel hoax to spend so much money running conferences encouraging faith-based groups to apply for federal funds that are not there.”
I’m hearing that government agencies are proving to be more effective than faith based programs in delivering services to the needy.
Did I get that wrong?



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Rick Nowlin

posted June 29, 2007 at 1:02 am


justintime — The “faith-based initiative” push is actually more sinister than is obvious; it’s about political ideology rather than authentic faith. See, many of these groups are run by black churches whose pastors were extremely critical of the political right, so in fact it’s an attempt to buy, at least, their silence. My church, which does a lot of ministry to the impoverished, actually looked into that a couple of years ago and found the eligibility requirements too stringent.



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Moderatelad

posted July 2, 2007 at 3:22 pm


A few churches in our area tried and could not get it together. (we were also sabotaged by a group in our community) We could have used the funds to help many families. We can administrate and have to people willing to give of their time – but just can not make it all happen with the money that we rec’ in our offering plates. 100% of the money would have goen to those that needed it the most – not if they needed it and came to our church. It is called ministry – cup of cold water…
Blessings –
.



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 2, 2007 at 4:33 pm


I guess the devil is in the details . Many churches have programs that work quite well , like the typical unban Gospel Missions that reach out to the homeless . They work well in as far as their budgets then secular programs that do the same thing with less productive results . You want programs that get people out of poverty . not just keeping the status quo , or allowing the problem to get worse. . Hard to do that with government and Faith Groups supporting the legal requirements now of separation of church and state .
I think it was a good idea , it looks like it did not do what it was hoped for . Too bad .
To think it was some secret conspiracy of the right Rick is just bogus .It was an attempt to REALLY help people in a tax payer efficient way .
I guess it is not working .
It did not matter if the church reaching out was a temple , Catholic School , Mosk, or whatever .
Many cultures , such as the Pacific Inlander community that lives in my neck of the woods has a culture that does not reach out of its circles , yet they are very religious people . If their was a way to help these people through their inner circles , via Faith Base it might have worked better then government agencies . Health Clinics and such via the church , well I guess that is too much to hope for these days .
Its more important to fund abortion health clincis huh Rick .
Government does not have all the answers , being a Christian you should know that .



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 2, 2007 at 11:56 pm


To think it was some secret conspiracy of the right Rick is just bogus. It was an attempt to REALLY help people in a tax payer efficient way.
I guess it is not working.

No, it’s not at all bogus and no secret — where did it come from in the first place? Frankly, the right, specifically Marvin Olasky, editor of the extremist World magazine and author of “The Tragedy of American Compassion.” Now, Olasky is a dominionist, which means that he believes that (his version of) Christianity should be used to subjugate people.
The idea of “compassionate conservatism” is, hopefully, to get “the poor” saved and turn them around morally so we won’t have to deal with them. But even if that happens they will still be poor, so underlying issues still won’t be addressed — in fact, it’s not even meant to do that. On the other hand, it’s extremely embarrassing to conservative Christians to find fellow believers who disagree with them, so they have to be silenced; most black pastors understand this. Martin Luther King Jr. still sticks in some craws because he said back in the 1950s that simply making people more “religious” isn’t the only issue (he understood that because he was pastoring a wealthy church).



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Moderatelad

posted July 3, 2007 at 10:15 am


For every dollor that the Gov’t gets and spends on the Social Wellfare System – less than $0.27 cents reaches the person – why?
In our case – the money that my group would have rec’d under Faith Based, 100% would have gone to the person.
Also – just because some of us are ‘evangelicals and conservative’ does not mean that we will use and abuse people into the Kingdom. It is the ‘cup of cold water’ idea. We do it out of compassion for others and because it is what our God asks us to do. I don’t ask peoples religious beliefs or political leanings prior to offering them help. If the person is bleeding – I am going to treat the wound first and then see if there is anything else they need. I will ‘show’ them the love of God rather than ‘tell’ them.
It is difficult to be a conservative with an open mind on Sojo – as so many on the other side of the issue seem to enjoy slamming the door shut.
Happy 4th to anyone who is going to celebrate – whatever…
.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 3, 2007 at 11:50 am


Also – just because some of us are ‘evangelicals and conservative’ does not mean that we will use and abuse people into the Kingdom. It is the ‘cup of cold water’ idea. We do it out of compassion for others and because it is what our God asks us to do.
Except that true compassion is connected to empathy — that is, we know what to do and how to do it because we ourselves have been there. These programs are not necessarily “compassionate” because its sponsors have already decided what the needs are and how to address them without talking to the people who actually live there. That by definition is “using and abusing,” not to mention condescending.
Besides, are these people going to bat for the poor to address substandard private housing, voting rights and the like? Such issues are never addressed in such programs — because that may mean political change, which they’re trying to avoid.
BTW, the reason such programs worked before was because the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy lived in the same neighborhoods, so you personally knew whom you were helping. That’s not the case now.



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