The President's Charitable Choice/Faith Based Initiative : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Dear Internet Church Family,

Have you pondered the long term consequences of the African-American church accepting federal dollars to conduct its charitable activities? Congressman Bobby Scott, the second African-American congressman from the state of Virginia, is against this program because he believes that it will allow religious groups to discriminate in their hiring practices and also against the recipients of their services. Many of the African-American minsters in my area have spoken in favor of accepting this money. Since the Black church is the only institution that is independently owned and operated by us, does accepting this money threaten our autonomy? Will this program also open the door for federal funding of private schools and other private institutions who meet the " federal definition" of charity to discriminate? Finally, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights report established that minority voter disenfranchisement occurred during the Florida 2000 Presidential election. It also cited Florida's secretary of State Kathryn Harris for failing to properly carry out her duties(There was an obvious conflict of interest). However, the commission found no findings of fraud. Some believe that there still needs to be a full scale investigation by the Justice Department(Don't hold your breath). A crime was committed when registered Black voters were turned away from the polls. Now, in light of this debacle, where is the integrity of the Black community when we are willing to be bought by this ostensible faith based initiative?


-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001


I have yet to be persuaded that the President's faith based initiative is good policy. While I applaud the effort, and see whare these federal dollars could be put to good use, I am extremely wary of government's involvement in the work of religious institutions. Who draws the line on what is an appropriate faith-based institution? Some of those in our society that may be misguided but who wield strong influence may impose that influence to the detriment of the God-fearing institutions. No line can be drawn between Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hare Krishnas, Buddhists, Moonies, Zoroastrians, Wiccans. When government draws a line between any one of these, it opens itself up to attack. I'll tell you now that my inclination would be to deny funding to all but the three major religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) and even then, I would have reservations about some factions within those groups. That sentiment goes against the grain of the First Amendment, and because I recognize that, I would not put myself in a position to have to make those determinations. Neither do I think the think the President or Congress should do so.

There are those that believe that we, as Christians, must make a stand and that the halls of government are as valid place to make that stand as are the sanctuaries of our churches. I, too, believe that, but not to the degree that we should allow government a financial stake in our efforts at Kingdom building. There are already methods in place whereby religious institutions can impact the community and have assistance from the government. It just requires more work on the part of the institution to indicate that that the church and the community entity are separate and distinct operations. I have no problem with that. My fear is that a time will come when the tide turns against us. While Revelations says that that time will surely come, we don't need to speed it along by rushing in where angels fear to tread.

Jesus said render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's, and unto God that which is God's. We've got to be mindful that we don't render unto Caesar, and then expect Caesar to render unto God in our stead.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Current opposition to the President's Faith-Based Initiative is purely political. During the Clinton Administration a slighlty scaled-down version of faith-based initiatives was coordinated through the US Dept of Housing & Urban Development. The sister of James Forbes [theologian & pastor of Riverside Church] was the executive director. I was in attendance @ Harvard in 1994 when former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros announced his "vision" along with President Clinton's interest in using faith communities as catalysts for local economic development activities. I do not recall a single attendee denouncing the proposal then. All of the top Dems in the audience were in complete agreement that this was the "right thing to do". Now, fast forward seven years in the future and endorsement about faith-based initiatives are suddenly looked upon as taboo and dangerous social policy. If such policies were warmly recieved in 1994 why are they looked upon as persona non grata today? Furthermore, Congressman Scott's concern about the discriminatory potential of such programs displays a transparent lack of political courage to face the real issue. The real issue is the expemption that religious organizations have in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. If Congressman Scott is concerned about the discriminatory aspect of Bush's proposal why not go to the source of the problem and propose an amendment to repeal the current exemption? This would be the "right thing to do" but it would mean a real fight, a fight which I'm sure Bobby Scott is not willing to undertake. QED

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

The whole thing frightens me a well. Although this might well have been proposed by other administrations in the past the difference nevertheless lies in administration.

Since I have yet to understand how the present administration came to be or who in fact was actually elected to office in the last election, I find it extremely difficult to trust the integrity or intent of anything proposed by the present administration. I also hold in sacred trust the Bill of Rights and the separation of church and state.

The Constitution has worked extremely well for the past 214 years so I can't see the logic of tampering with it now. The A.M.E. Church has worked equally as well for the same period of time as the Constitution. I certainly hope we will not jeopardize this by blindly accepting some quick fix proposal of any political nature whatever without carefully scrutinizing every detail, and every nook and cranny with a fine tooth comb.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ