Friday, January 21, 2005

Faith-Based Prevarication

I want to look a little more in-depth at an interview I mentioned in the Roundup below, with Jim Towey, Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, and soon to be Assistant to the President.

Take a look at some of the crap coming from the adminstration on this issue (interviewer questions in bold):

President Bush's main legislative faith-based initiative, the Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment Act, failed to pass in 2001. Will you try again?

I hope, now that the president is not running for reelection, that some of those politics are out of the way. A Pew poll showed a 16-percentage-point difference in favor of government's granting money to faith-based organizations for social services.

What Towey doesn't mention is the actual percentages: 50-34 in favor. That's hardly a ripping mandate. Nor does it distinguish between funding for established groups such as Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social Services, which do not proselytize or require religious participation as a condition of receiving services, and smaller independent groups which often do.

Are you going to move the faith-based initiative down to the state and local levels?

Now, we have 21 governors and 116 mayors with faith-based offices. I want to stress that many of them are Democrats.

However, there are 18 states that … basically tell these groups that if you are going to take any state funds, you can't hire according to your religious beliefs. The President will identify state and local governments that aren't very friendly to faith based organizations.

That there so many faith-based offices testifies to nothing more than this is indeed pork-barrel politics. And those states are exercising their legal rights, a right the administration itself has promoted with regards to such issues as school vouchers.

Will you increase the use of vouchers for social services?

The President will continue to explore the use of vouchers in recovery or job training programs. A couple of states are already issuing vouchers for drug addiction recovery programs. There are areas where social problems are so bad that it's worth looking at other approaches.

Really? Where? And why? Shouldn't this be an open debate?

Sadly, though, Towey here points to some of the real motivation behind faith-based initiatives: the wholesale exporting of social services to the private sector. Same deal as with Social Security: privatize, privatize, privatize.

Crap, crap, crap.

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