Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Faith Based Iniative: Can We Trust It?

With Obama re-upping Bush's "Faith Based Initiative", my initial reaction is one of concern.  Can the son of an openly secular family really be attempting to blur the line between church and state?  (There is a good quote from Obama's book at this link, describing his mothers view of religion)

Obviously this sort of action is expected from an evangelical oil executive, but not a thoughtful, intelligent, constitutional lawyer.  Is it possible to give federal dollars to any group that bases it's motives on "faith" and still preserve the separation of church from state?  Can faith based groups describe their desire to help others without invoking their mythology?  Will people that claim no faith be able to access this money?  

While looking for answers to these questions, I stumbled upon the website for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  At this site I found a FAQ page regarding the use of "Faith Based" funds, and how exactly these funds are to be used.  Admittedly, these guidelines were written under the previous presidents regime, and surprisingly are quite secular in their design. A Christian soup kitchen can identify itself as "Christian", but cannot make judgements upon those who may eat at the kitchen.  For example, if the soup kitchen refused to serve a customer because they were wearing a Burqa, this would violate the guidelines, as denying the food, (bought with federal funds), would be based on mythology/religious differences.  

It seems that there are guidelines in place to ensure that this federal money is not used in proselytizing, and this is the main worry of the agnostic/atheist movement.  But how do we moniter this?  Is there a regulatory watchdog keeping an eye on the money and the institutions? How can Barack give me the confidence that my taxes aren't going to the "christianization" of the homeless and those under state care, (ex. the incarcerated, those in adoption homes)?  As we know the history of religion's ability to infiltrate the minds of the destitute and undereducated, how do we ensure that our nations core beliefs are heeded and respected?  As previously written, (see my Feb. 8th post, "The fight continues..."), Obama has opened his arms to non-believers, now, can he continue with the systematic secularization of the country?

Trusting churches to spend government funds properly?..."Faith-Based" indeed... 

An article I found direclty pertaining to this...Faith Based Fudging



  1. To me, it does not sound like a true separation between church and state, which is an important part of our Constitution.

  2. This post leaves the question unanswered, as I've yet to see how to verify proper usage of these funds. Until we see a regulatory system set up, I will still have my doubts. How can we ensure Obama takes this seriously?

  3. I say we attempt to find the money in practice. For instance, go to a local establishment that is both faith-based and a recipient of federal funds. Start saying atheistic things while inside. If somebody gives you guff, report it to proper authorities as a violation of Health and Human Service mandate.

    This is a rudimentary idea...much could be improved upon, i am sure.