Monday, March 07, 2005
If you don't keep up with the comic, The Boondocks, you really ought to check it out. As you can see, it is quite funny. Thanks to ER for sending me this one.
About a month ago, I was having a seemingly innocent discussion with a conservative friend of mine about government support for faith-based programs. The fact that I think faith-based organizations provide important services in our communities may surprise you. The perception that liberals do not support faith-based initiatives and government funding for religious organizations was challenged earlier this year with comments by Senator Hillary Clinton, which supported faith-based initiatives.
We know that President Bush supports faith-based initiatives, as well. In a recent news conference, the President explains how finding Jesus helped him to quit getting drunk and running businesses into the ground:
"There's all kinds of ways to quit drinking, but one of the most effective ways to quit drinking is for a person to make a choice to go to a place that changes your heart," said Bush, who stopped drinking alcohol over a decade ago.
Obviously, the President has personal reasons for his support of faith-based intervention.
Recent events, however, have highlighted the dangers of providing government funding for religious organizations. The President has stated his support for removing equal employment opportunity for employment requirements for faith-based organizations. Essentially, the President wants to allow faith-based organizations to discriminate on the basis of religion in their hiring practices, while still accepting federal funding.
Additionally, the Justice Department recently supported the Salvation Army, when the organization, which has received millions in public dollars, refused to hire individuals who did not accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior. This is only one example of how faith-based organizations and the services they provide, may not be accessible to those with divergent or non-existent religious beliefs.
I completely defend the right of any organization to set their own standards for employment. If religious discrimination is an integral part of the hiring process, however, I feel strongly that the organization should not take public funds. If an organization takes federal dollars, their services should be available to everyone, and not just people of certain religious groups.
If faith-based organizations can't agree to follow these practices to ensure that discrimination is not occurring within their organizations, they shouldn't spend my tax dollars. We're learning as we drift deeper into the hole of the Bush Presidency, that the increasing influence that religion, and Christianity, in particular, is having on our government becomes more and more clear.
Additionally, the surge in funding for faith-based initiatives and services has limited the availability of AIDS prevention, womens' reproductive health, and medically-based drug and alcohol intervention in many areas throughout the county. The fact is that the Bush Administration spends a very small portion of the federal budget on human services to begin with, and to further divide that segment of funding, and limit its use to only those organizations who promote religion, is incredibly scary.
Some would argue that our country was founded on religious principles. The most frightening reality about that statement is the way the current regime has distorted religious values to promote discrimination, exclusion, and favoritism for one religious sect over another, principles that our founding mothers and fathers were undoubtedly trying to avoid when they established this country. Religion has always been a source for discrimination, but with the government's funding and compliance, faith-based initiatives can make fighting discrimination even more difficult.
Unless we can guarantee that faith-based organizations will not use tax dollars to practice discrimination and limit the availability of important services such as AIDS prevention and womens' contraceptive care, we should not be funding them with public tax dollars. Faith-based organizations should be held to the same standards as other government organizations. Unfortunately, it appears that for the time being, the American people are funding discriminatory programs and agendas.