Friday, March 04, 2005

Two on Faith-Based Pork

First from Inter Press Service News Agency, a vaguely sinister-sounding outfit I hadn't heard of before this: an interfaith group is lining up to oppose the pork provisions in the Job Training Improvement Act:
”Since their inception in 1982, our laws have included civil rights protections against employment discrimination,” Terri Schroeder, senior lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a member of the coalition, told IPS.

”Faith-based organisations have always participated, and have always played by the same rules as other service providers.”

The coalition includes such groups as the AFL-CIO, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Association of University Women, the American Federation Teachers, the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Episcopal Church, USA, Catholics for a Free Choice, the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, and many others.

And here's one from Voice of America:
The Reverend Land notes President Bush has always said his faith will govern his actions. That is not so different from the attitude of past presidents. “The president is not departing from what has been the historical practice of Americans and their leaders having religion play an important part in their speeches, public policy and in their public events. It is not a violation of separation of church and state unless it were to be required by the state, which of course it is not.”

However, the Reverend Gaddy thinks President Bush goes further than his predecessors. “He uses religious language to advance public policy. That shuts down the debate that is so important in a democracy by suggesting that if this position is one endorsed by religion itself, then this is an issue you should not question.”

The Reverend Gaddy warns this kind of rhetoric could lead to further entanglement of church and state, with injury to both. But the Reverend Land contends that a president's moral values -- often grounded in religious belief -- inevitably tie to his public policies. No doubt religious leaders like the Reverends Land and Gaddy will continue their debate as President Bush recently re-affirmed his commitment to the initiative, saying "faith can move mountains."

Wonder what Chuck Grassley thinks of that?

[UPDATE]: Make that three.
Recent experiences of some Inland religious and nonprofit groups raise questions about the federal government's ability to monitor tax money distributed to faith-based groups.

In the last two months, three of 10 Inland groups identified as grant recipients under new faith-based funding rules have said they either didn't get money the White House said they did in 2003 or are not faith-based organizations.


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