I Agree With Bill Donohue

On Friday, BillDo wrote

The Catholic League would like to go further: it’s time to shut down the faith-based program altogether.

and my head went asplodey.

Okay, so we have different reasons for thinking that the faith-based program set up by George W. Bush should be shut down. I think it’s because the government shouldn’t be involved in promoting religion — either promoting one religion over another, or favoring religion over non-religion, or vice-versa — whereas Bill… well, here’s what he has to say:

When Sen. Obama was running for president three years ago, he pledged support for faith-based programs provided they were emptied of any faith component: he opposed the right of faith-based programs to maintain their integrity by hiring only people of their faith.

In 2009, the Obama administration balked: it said it would decide on a case-by-case basis whether a funding request from a faith-based program was acceptable. In 2010, many members of this program pushed to pare back religious liberty provisions that were extant.

When faith is gutted from faith-based programs—when Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox Jews can’t hire their own—we are left with a carcass. […] The goal, obviously, is to convert these religious entities into full-blown secular organizations. It would be better not to let them hijack these programs in the name of assisting them, thus it makes sense to shut them down.

In other words, not only does he want Catholic charitable organizations to get federal assistance, he also wants them to be able to discriminate in hiring. Because hey, what’s the point in running a soup kitchen if the actual soup is ladled by a Protestant or a Jew, right?

That’s the problem I have with religious charities: they’re easily abused to be a tool for proselytizing: offer someone a free meal, but only after they listen to a sermon, or a lecture on the virtues of $RELIGION. In other words, advertising, just like when a business hands out sun visors with its logo on them at the county fair, or when the guy who’s selling time-shares offers to take you out for lunch so he can convince you to buy what he’s selling.

Obviously, the government has an interest in promoting the good done by religious organizations, but too often it seems that the organizations themselves see the good not as a goal in itself, but as a means toward a different end, often proselytizing. Recall that last year, Catholic Charities ceased its operations when it was told that it had to either stop discriminating against gay couples or stop accepting government money.

But if they can’t bring themselves to do good because it’s good, screw them. We don’t need to pump government money into churches’ advertising budgets.

Obama’s Faith-Based Initiatives: WTF?

During his electoral campaign, Obama promised to keep and expand Bush’s
Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. This morning, the AP has
this story:

Obama is also telling the gathering that the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that he is announcing Thursday won’t favor any religious group, or favor religious groups over secular groups.

(More
here.)

I’m all for the separation of church and state, and all the stuff
Obama said in that paragraph, but if the Office of Faith-Based
Initiatives won’t favor religion over irreligion, why put “Faith” in
the organization’s name? Seriously, WTF? Why not call it the Office of
Charity or Office of Public Service or something like that?

I suppose one explanation is that he thinks that federal support of
charitable works is a Good Thing, but that the Bush administration’s
implementation of it was broken, but that religious overtones are
necessary for public support.

Of course, he could just rename it, as when the Department of War
became the Department of Defense, but perhaps he thinks that would
make him unpopular.

A more cynical explanation is that he plans to continue the previous
administration’s policy toward the office: have an Office of
Faith-Based Initiatives in place to suck up to the religious, but not
fund it adequately.

I doubt the latter explanation, because a) if that were the case,
Obama wouldn’t have made his comments about keeping church and state
separate. And besides, sucking up to voters is typically something
presidents do when they’re running for reelection. And as long as the
last election cycle has lasted, I don’t think it’s grown to four years
yet. Please tell me it hasn’t.