Tuesday 23 July 2019

   I was disappointed, but not surprised, when the George Bush administration established an office to administer “faith-based” grants. I was more than a little surprised when the Obama Administration continued the program, apparently pretty much as it had been run previously.

   “Faith” is kind of a nebulous term. Basically, if you “have faith” in someone or something, it means you have complete confidence in them/it. You don’t need any further proof. On that basis, anybody can “have faith” (although whether it’s justified or not is something else). However, when the Government talks about “faith-based,” it is usually about something religious; in the United States, that religious Something is more than likely to be some form of “christianity,” and that form is more than likely to be Conservative Evangelical. I suspect not much “faith based” money is going to any other “faiths.”

   I don’t think I can prove that, because the records seem pretty hard to review. Apparently, the applicants don’t have to spell out exactly what they plan to do with the money; the justifications I have seen say only that they are supporting charitable or community projects. Some of these “community projects” that I’ve found records of include (and these continued into the Obama Administration): “teaching” gays and lesbians  how to not be gays and lesbians; promoting “traditional” marriage; supporting so-called anti-abortion clinics; and teaching “abstinence only” programs. Maybe not where I’d like my taxes to be going?

   Besides the wrongness of the Government blatantly supporting certain religious beliefs and practices, what’s the deal with making it sound like “faith-based” is some special level of activity? Presumably, the idea of the legislation behind the program was just that religious applications should be given the same chance of funding as non-religious requests. Again, I disagree with the premise (I think the Constitution has been presumed to say something about that) but, if that’s really it, why single out the “faith-based” aspect? Many organizations, many individuals, do important and productive community outreach, and their agendas are just to “do good,” with no strings attached.

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