Aug
21

Faith Based Money – Want Some?

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Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCalling all Buddhists, Muslims, Pagans, Christians, Unitarians, et cetera. Senator Richard Burr is coming to town on Wednesday to tell you how to get your piece of the federal faith based pie.

“U.S. Senator Richard Burr will host a federal grant workshop in Asheville to focus on improving access to federal grants for faith-based and community initiatives.

The workshop will be held at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Reuters Center at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Burr will deliver opening remarks to workshop attendees.

The workshop is part of Burr’s North Carolina Economic Development series to make the state more competitive in the federal arena. The seminar is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is requested. North Carolina faith-based and community initiative organization personnel and those who wish to attend the workshop should contact Emily Cranford at (202) 224-3154.”

Just kidding. There’s no way you’re going to get Faith-Based money unless you’re an evangelical Christian.

People of faith are quite often the most compassionate, active people around. The problem with the faith-based programs, of course, is that the term itself is Bushcode for “Christian programs”. That’s why it’d be great to see our very active pagan community turn out to ask about federal grant monies to aid the environment and education. It would be wonderful to have our Muslim community turn out to ask about funding for prejudice-reduction programs. Christians don’t have a corner on the recovery model of substance abuse treatment. Buddhists can feed the homeless as well.

Faith-based programs are all well and good. As long as the programs are run competently and inclusively, I don’t have a preference between a Baptist group and a Zoroastrian group receiving funding. However, when faith-based is reduced to Christian-only, then we’ve got a state-sponsored religion on our hands.

James at BlueNC says, “What the heck is anconservative creature like Burr doing teaching people to grovel at the public trough? And more to the point, what’s this “faith-based” business all about? It’s bad enough that religions get preferential tax treatment in the US, but now we’re spending taxpayer dollars to train them to master the art of squeezing federal dollars for their faith-based programs?”

Our government ought to spend a lot more money on effective programs for impoverished and addicted people, so I’m not sweating the expense. I’m a lot more likely to fear the conflation of a single religious sect with government. It’s especially scary that George W. Bush signed an executive order in 2006 to “expand opportunities for faith-based and other community organizations” at the Department of Homeland Security. Maybe a good Buddhist ought to ask how to get a hold of that faith based Homeland Security money. It would be poignant to see an NC Muslim group qualify the same as Florida Christians for money to open a prison.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDavid Kuo, former second-in-command of Bush’s Office of Faith Based Initiatives, has a book coming out which details:

“an office used almost exclusively to win political points with both evangelical Christians and traditionally Democratic minorities.
[…]
“He says some of the nation’s most prominent evangelical leaders were known in the office of presidential political strategist Karl Rove as “the nuts.”

“National Christian leaders received hugs and smiles in person and then were dismissed behind their backs and described as ‘ridiculous,’ ‘out of control,’ and just plain ‘goofy,’” Kuo writes.”
[…]
“Kuo quotes an unnamed member of the review panel charged with rating grant applications as saying she stopped looking at applications from “those non-Christian groups,” as did many of her colleagues.”

It’s nice of Senator Burr to make a trip to the mountains, and Hooligans hope that oodles of faith-based dollars fall into area coffers. However, Burr, Bush, and other theocrats in government would like to see our money go only to Christians, and the right Christians at that. This is known as state-sponsored religion, and it’s not acceptable per our Constitution.

So go on down and tell Senator Burr what you think of faith-based money. Tell him about how you’re a Pastafarian trying to start a carb clinic for underweight girls. Tell him that government shouldn’t be in the business of favoring one religion over any others. Ask him if he has any non-Christian friends or if he’s ever attended a mosque or temple. Have some fun, and get some video.

Categories : Local, Religion, Republicans

Comments

  1. Senator No says:

    I think you’re applying a double standard.

    First, both Al Gore and John Kerry were also advocates of faith based initiatives; so if they had been elected, Senator Burr would still be here telling people how to apply for this money. This is not something unique to Bush. So, I believe James at Blue NC to be far off base on this one.

    What makes you think it’s only open to Christians? Sure, they have a large influence on the area, it is the Bible belt after all. I missed the part where it said “Muslims and Jews need not apply”. As with everything, Bush’s Administration may not have spent the money in the best way possible, but what do you have against faith based prisons? America has always been a prison reform country, as noted by Toqueville.

    Perhaps this is politically saavy of Burr? Just as the democrat party candidates attended Yearly Kos to be near their base, many of these same people are likely to vote for Burr, and he’s here to keep them happy. You can’t deny a politician his tools and expect him to get his job done.

    I noticed where you’ve mentioned before that there are not more republicans on city council because that’s how a governing majority works. Perhaps the faith based initiative program operates the same way. There are more Americans who want it than don’t want it. The majority says they want it, so we have it. If it turns out the money was being used to pay for klan rallies and fund extremist terror religion groups, I promise you the money and the program would be gone tomorrow. But tell James at BlueNC to try taking away church’s preferrential tax status and getting rid of faith based iniatives and see how many elections he wins. It’s about majorities.

    Conservatives are against expansion of government, not the denial of resources. The faith based initatives programs is resource in place. A conservative would generally be against expanding the pool of money for this, not denying people access to it, hoping the money goes unused. Burr is showing the people how to access a resource that is already available to them.

    How is this state sponsored religion when the money is going to different sects? Even if the bulwork goes to Christian religions, there are many and deep differences between each demonination. I would believe that ABCCM qualifies for such “faith based iniatives”, and I am a big advocate of the work they do. They help shelter, feed, and clothe the homeless. Yet their work does not stop there, they help them find jobs to get money in their pocket to make them self sufficient. But nowhere does Congress make a law regarding the establisment of religion. That would be state sponsored religion.

  2. shadmarsh says:

    “Conservatives are against expansion of government”

    Senator No, this is true only when they are not in power and are unable to have control over how that government is expanded (especially when they can expand it into the bedroom)…or would you argue that the Patriot Act, and Dept. of Der Father…err Homeland Security, has actually shrunk the government?

    “I missed the part where it said “Muslims and Jews need not apply”’

    Come on now… Racism does have to be explicit, it is already implicit

  3. Gordon Smith says:

    “Kuo quotes an unnamed member of the review panel charged with rating grant applications as saying she stopped looking at applications from “those non-Christian groups,” as did many of her colleagues.”

    You’re a big fan of the FB, eh, Senator?

    You think that George W. Bush got elected because the majority wanted his faith based initiative? That’s absurd on it’s face, and you know it. Almost as absurd as saying that conservatives are against big government after watching the way the Party of conservatism expanded government over the last six and a half years.

    Kerry and Gore may have been advocates, but something tells me we might have a much more ecumenical version of the system were they controlling it.

    Another note – it’s the “Democratic Party”. To say Democrat party is to use the language of Karl Rove and Frank Luntz and Patrick McHenry. It’s incorrect and considered a perjorative around here.

    Faith-based prisons?

    Lastly, the law doesn’t say Congress shall not make a law regarding the establishment of a sect. It says of a religion. So the fact that only Christian groups receive funds raises a problem. As I said in my post (did you read my post?), there’s a lot of great work being done, and I’m not against FB initiatives as long as they’re run competently and inclusively. The latter part certainly isn’t true.

    The Bush administration believes in promoting the Christian religion. Were they a group of private interests, that would be super, but as they’re representing the whole of the country, they’re (theoretically) bound to have faith-based dollars go to various faiths, not just the faith to which they subscribe.

    I was raised Presbyterian, and my grandfather’s side of the family was Quaker as hell. I’m steeped in Christianity. I like Christianity.

    What I don’t like is state-sponsored religion.

  4. Arratik says:

    Turns out that “Democrat Party” was also the language of Herbert Hoover and Joseph McCarthy.

    (Wikipedia)

  5. Damn it, why can’t I be there. In the interest of fairness and parity, I have long campaigned for there to be a complementary “lack of faith” based initiatives. The atheist hotline is vastly underfunded and understaffed.

  6. Senator No says:

    Shadmarsh:

    Playing the race card in a religious debate, how eloquent and convoluted. Also, there’s a difference between conservative and repubs. R’s are a party of coalitions, conservatives are part of that coalition. If you look back to Nov 2006, the same people that let gov’t grow got booted, and polls went so far as to stress that democrats (for some reason democrat party is wrong, even though it’s full of democrats) were the party of small gov’t. If you could point out where I said “the conservatives in power shrunk the gov’t over the last 6 years”, I would appreciate it. Otherwise, please stop assigning me positions and then attacking me on stances I never took.

    Gordon,

  7. shadmarsh says:

    Senator No,

    You, said that “Conservatives are against expansion of government” and while you may not wish to call the current Republican Administration conservative, they themselves have been quite vociferous in their proclamations of their conservative credentials, but perhaps you are disowning them and casting the last 6 plus years off into a nether reality in order to spare your viewpoint culpability in the most disastrous administration since Nero.

    to your “race card” point (if you made one?) to suggest that mainstream and conservative Christians and Christian churches do not mean/see race when the two words “Muslim and Jew” are brought up is intellectually dishonest, and to suggest that the two are not intertwined is just false, and ultimately naive…but whatever floats your boat

  8. Senator No says:

    Gordon,

    I think you misinterpreted what I was saying. There are many reasons Bush is now president, I never indicated that was the sole reason, nor did I even get into the year 2000 or the year 2004.

    My intentions were simply to state that this is politically popular, enough so that even Gore and Kerry endorsed these ideas. Would it have been run better under them, we’ll never know. I don’t know where you got the idea I claimed that was the sole reason for presidential victories I never discussed.

    James at Blue NC was also throwing out a red herring in my opinion by attacking Burr for going to the federal trough. If Burr never mentioned how to get aid for people, he would be attacked for that too. James created a lose-lose situation. It’s not Burr’s discretion who is awarded the grants, he’s simply the messenger, especially in the minority party.

    Instead of just attacking variousu politicians as zealots, why is no solution being proposed like contacting Shuler and asking him to introduce legislation to regulate this spending? If this was truly offensive to the country, then why have neither Reid nor Pelosi introduced legislation or held votes on reforming this matter? Congress does have the power of the purse, after all. Why waste time mocking people as zealots and hypocrites when perhaps there is another solution?

    I agree with you that certain good things are being accomplished. I also agree with you that giving it all to one religion would be a bad thing. Burr just deserves a little more slack. At least he’s not holding the meeting in a church.

  9. Senator No says:

    Shadmarsh,

    You can call yourself whatever you want, but it doesn’t make it so. Edward the III of England called himself king of France, but the French didn’t buy it. When I envision modern day conservatives, I think of Ron Paul, John Ensign, Tom Coburn, and Jeff Flake. They voted against Medicare Part D, an expansion of government.

    I’ll grant you that a lot of church goers vision races when they think of other religions, but to say they all do it is to stereotype. Stereotyping is dangerous, and is unfair to those who don’t fall into your own stereotyped ideas.

  10. shadmarsh says:

    Senator No,

    Excuse my accidental stereotyping, as I meant to include a “most” (which still may be stereotyping, though perhaps factually correct) but due to insufficient typing skills and too much coffee, I left it out.

  11. Gordon Smith says:

    Senator,

    I find it hilarious that you tell me to talk to Shuler and Pelosi about a program invented, executed, and pushed by the executive. Did you read the executive order about putting FB into place at the Dept. of Homeland Security?

    How about dealing with the real issue:

    Faith based initiatives are intended to provide funding exclusively for Christian groups. Discuss.

  12. Drama Queen says:

    Thanks, Gordon, for posting this. I was hoping the Asheville folks would take this and run with it.

    As to pagans, when I was at UNCA they told me that, according to the state of North Carolina, paganism didn’t exist. I said that’s because Christians killed them all.

    But, I told them, the “good news” is that we’re rising from the dead just like Jesus did.

  13. Senator No says:

    Gordon,

    Congress has the power of the purse?

    I say they do.

    You have a problem with how many is being spent?

    Shouldn’t you talk to people who control the purse stings then?

  14. Senator No says:

    To elaborate, that’s why you have checks and balances. You have a problem with the behavior of one branch of government, so you turn to another to keep it from getting out of hand. That’s why there are Congressional Oversight committees, that’s why the House and Senate pass the budgets. They can see how much money is being allocated in faith based programs, and then leave it out of the budget if they are unhappy with it. They can create stipulations on how it is to be spent.

    Why are you ignoring an entire branch of government and the checks and balances system to mitigate the problem you have identified.

  15. Gordon Smith says:

    Senator No,

    It’s clear where your allegiance lies. Your unwillingness to lay any responsibility at the feet of the executive or even to honestly discuss the inherent problems with government sponsoring one religion makes clear your agenda.

    I’m happy to talk with Rep. Shuler and with Senator Burr about this.

    Are you willing to address the role of the executive or the problem of the program?

  16. Senator No says:

    Good grief. If you think that’s my agenda, then the background of this website is red because of all the kool-aid spilled on it.

    In my posts I said I agreed with you that certain good things are being done, AND that giving it all to one religion is a bad thing. What’s your point of contention? If the administration misspent the money, or is mis properly allocating it, or violating the first amendment with it, then they should be held accountable.

    They’ll be held accountable by the other branches of gov’t; whether that be through a court ruling or through restrictions passed by the legislature.

    What the administartion has done is exactly that, it’s a done deal. The money is spent and gone, and you can’t change those facts. That’s entitre reason I went off into the legislature saying you should use a check and a balance system if you are unhappy with what’s going on with the administration, because no one else is changing it. They have no more elections to worry about, no one in the administartion is running for elective office; they have no political accountability and they are going to keep going down this road come hell or highwater.

    If you don’t have a restriction from another branch of government, the best you can do is fume about it.

  17. Gordon Smith says:

    I must have missed the part where you talk about how giving it all to one religion is a bad thing. I heard you argue that the differences among Christian sects creates some sort of religious diversity.

    If I’m reading you right, you’re saying that only the legislative branch can alter the existing program. This is because “they [the executive] are going to keep going down this road”. You’re saying that the only way to hold the executive accountable is for the legislature to use the purse.

    Am I right?

    There’s also the option, of course, of holding the executive accountable for what they do in the court of public opinion. Saying that since the executive is behaving irresponsibly that the responsibility to change things lies solely in the legislative is incorrect. The executive continues to have a responsibility to prevent itself from sponsoring a single religion. I’ll imagine that you are speaking purely pragmatically and skipping over the principle, and I dig that about you, but the principle and its breach lie first with the executive who concocted and executed the program.

    Now, that having been said, I’m willing to bet you dollars to donuts that Heath Shuler or anyone else from a district with a lot of conservative Christians isn’t going to go near reforming this program. My hope would be to help qualified religious organizations run successful social programs in order to build community, help the least fortunate, and save some money. The reality is that unless the rules change at the FBO, then it’ll be evangelicals getting most of my tax money while other equally qualified groups do without.

    So, that’s that. Maybe I’ve done nothing more than shine another flashlight into the evangelical-conservative mind meld taking place at every level of government under the Bush administration. It’s wrong. Bush and his adminstration are responsible. Lawmakers tremble before Big Religion, and they figure they’ve got bigger fish to fry in the form of a comprehensive look at how this last six and a half years has transformed the executive branch into a theocratic, partisan, secretive, unaccountable organization.

    Faith based is a part of that.

  18. Senator No says:

    I didn’t expound upon giving money all to one religion, but I did say it. I do also think that if you gave all the money to only Methodists, that Baptists, Presbyterians, etc, would indeed be angry. I made a passing reference to the Supreme Court, but I think you’re right as well, the legislature and the court will have an outcome on this program. Aside from those two, I have no idea how you actually hold the executive accountable, especially when they aren’t running for office again. Public opinion only does so much good. Notice none of the GOP candidates are running as Bush clones.

    If you can prove that all money has gone to only Christians, you can probably file a civil discrimination suit, but that’s an uphill task.

    Thus, I think the legislature and the power of the purse is the most effective way.

    You’re also correct that Shuler isn’t going near this program; in essence you’re between a rock and a hard place for options of reform.

    I will say I did campaign work in 2006, and there were people who viewed getting the pro-life candidate elected as an extension of their religion. That did rub me the wrong way, and I felt it was breaching first amendment rights. There is a finite distinction between pro-life (anti-choice) as a policy, and capturing government to promote your religious views. Same with tv-censorship from social conservatives. If you don’t like it, don’t watch it; don’t expand government.

    I think abuses of this program would be shameful, but in essence, it’s a good program. I don’t think we’re that far apart, although I’m a few beers in now. I would be curious to see more evidence of which sect got which funding, but what you point to is alarming.

  19. anonymoses says:

    Did you know — I’m sure you did — that if you add up all the letters in Gordon Smith, it comes to 666. Well, not really, but it could happen. I think it’s actually like 125: distant neighbor of the anti-christ…who is somewhere in the Raleigh vicinity, although I hear he is due in Asheville soon enough. And his message will be: don’t worry about Jesus tearing through your churches, charging you with money-changing and base materialism. We made sure he would never do THAT again.

    And so the saga continues. But none of these people are trustworthy. therefore they will wind up distrusting each other, and the house of cards, as with Bush Inc., will all come tumbling down. Pull up a chair and watch!

    Warm regards,
    Dave

  20. “But, I told them, the “good news” is that we’re rising from the dead just like Jesus did.”

    LOL — Drama Queen, I love your posts!

  21. Without going into the partisan political discussion for as a Green I do not see two parties, call me crazy, the issue at hand is the fact that we have politician that are beholden to a elite group of people that like to take us back to the feudal system.

    Bottom line: suffering of the masses is good for that will drive them to religion and thats where there are being told to just accept “Your Savior” and the next life will be so great, which in turn keeps the elite in power. And the religious leaders like it for they are not suffering but are rather part of the elite.

    The reason for government is to serve the people; if we let Religion take care of it why am I paying taxes? And what about the 10% of people in the USA that do not believe in God or the Easter-Bunny for that matter? Religion is a private thing, get it out of my Government and my face for that matter.