Top government officials overseeing the program, designed to funnel federal social service grants to religious groups, have appeared at Republican- sponsored events and with GOP candidates in at least six states. The events often target black audiences, such as a recent South Carolina seminar to which about 1,600 black ministers were invited. The events' hosts explained how the federal program will distribute about $25 million in grants to community groups affiliated with churches and other private-sector institutions...[full story at Washington Post].
Earlier from Salon: Bringing faith to the West Wing: FB Initiative laying the groundwork for GOP patronage machine.
WorkingForChange - Bill Berkowitz - 02.13.02 - On February 7 President Bush, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.), announced that they had settled on a deal for legislation that would incorporate some of the president's proposals from his faith-based initiative. Whether the provisions will become law or not is still up in the air, because they must be approved by both the House and the Senate.
The most controversial provision in the proposed legislation would allow direct grants to religious based charities, which currently must setup non-sectarian branches of themselves in order to get federal money.
This provision is an extension of the so-called "charitable choice" provisions, first introduced into the 1996 welfare reform bill by then-Senator now-Attorney General John Ashcroft. It is not now clear whether these religious federal money recipients would have to abide by all other federal laws, such as civil rights laws, or laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion, or religious beliefs.
According to Rep. Bobby Scott, (D-Va), "The legislation does not make it clear that religious groups that discriminate in hiring will not be eligible. Rather, it will be up to the Bush administration to interpret the law..." Writes Berkowitz: "The result of this compromise is that the Bush Administration, stocked as it is with right-wing ideologues, will be the fox guarding the henhouse. And, at the risk of mixing metaphors, they've created a loophole you could drive a bunch of tractor-trailer trucks through."
Of course the Bush Administration is not to be trusted to deal even-handedly with religious charities that support it. Berkowitz recounts last year's ugly dustup over a backroom political deal between the Salvation Army and the Bush Administration that would have allowed the Salvation Army to receive federal funds and still discriminate against homosexuals, while providing the Bush Administration with a $1 million campaign touting it paid for by the Salvation Army.
Berkowitz also recounts how Marvin Olasky, the conservative philanthropy product who is the "godfather" of "compassionate conservatism" (and advisor to George W. Bush), reported last year in his World magazine that he had been given assuarances by the Bush Administration that its legislation-writer was a master at writing "vague language" that would create an opening for religious grant recipients to proselytize its beneficiares despite what appear to be restrictions against it.
Meanwhile, "Senator Lieberman praised the president for his 'leadership' and pointed out that he believes the legislation is 'a constitutionally appropriate' way to proceed...." Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, has a different take: "The White House claims this plan will offer equal treatment for all groups, but it actually gives special treatment to religious groups."
"It is simply wrong for a publicly funded job training facility to post a banner that reads, 'Only Jesus Saves,'" Lynn added. "If a religious group receives public funds, they should display an American flag, not a crucifix. The faith-based initiative still has a giant question mark hanging over it."
Concludes Berkowitz: "At the end of the day, the Bush faith- based team may not have gotten all it wanted, but it has certainly gotten a foot, a rather large one at that, in the door. From this point forward that door will continue to be nudged open inch by inch."
Read the full report at WorkingForChange.com.
January 9, 2002 - The Freedom From Religion Foundation's legal challenge of direct, unrestricted taxpayer funding of a faith-based social service agency has resulted in the first court decision in the nation against public funding of faith-based initiatives.
In a decision announced this week (January 9, 2002), U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, for the Western District of Wisconsin, found that a public "grant to Faith Works constitutes unrestricted, direct funding of an organization that engages in religious indoctrination" and that the "funding stream violates the establishment clause."
Federal Court Halts Public Funding of Faith Works
"FFRF vs. Ashcroft", Freethought Today, August 2001
FaithWorks' Statement of Faith, Theology & Spirituality, Freethought Today, August 2001
"Foundation Goes To Court Over 'Charitable Choice' Funding of 'Faith Works', Freethought Today, November 2000
$100,000 to Faith Works International
$25,000 to Faith Works Milwaukee
Writing in the Christian magazine he edits called "World", Olasky called the dust-up over the Salvation Army's request to spend federal money in discriminatory ways a "feint":
"The biggest feint of all, according to one executive close to the White House, has been the entire debate over separating 'religious' and 'nonreligious' content [of the recipient agency's programs]. 'Let people fight over that. It's all a show,' he said. 'We kick and scream. We didn't roll over too easy on language, or else they'll think it's what you wanted.' What's truly important in the legislation, he said, is a 'stealth provision' about vouchers: 'Let people argue over grants, but get the vouchers passed.'"
According to Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Bush administration sources told Olasky that from the very beginning, they were confident that Department of Justice senior counsel Carl Esbeck who "is a master at writing vague language," would create an opening for proselytizing despite what appears to be restrictions against it.
And that came to pass. Folded into the House bill is a "stealth provision" using a system of vouchers to allow faith-based organizations to get around the no proselytizing restrictions. In "Vouchers, Faith-Based Initiative's Saving Grace," an article posted on the Web site of the Center for the Study of Compassionate Conservatism, Michael Barkey describes vouchers as the "Faith-Based Initiative's saving grace."
Barkey, president of the recently founded Center for which Olasky serves on its Board of Directors, describes the provision: "Like food stamps, vouchers can be issued directly to individuals who may then redeem them for goods and services at the qualifying institution of their choice. Vouchers maintain a wall of separation between the government and the service provider, reducing the likelihood of organizational dependency or regulatory creep. And the government doesn't support any particular religion through a voucher plan, only enable individuals to choose where to go for assistance."
Barkey also points out that the House bill allows for cabinet secretaries "to convert 'some or all of the funds' earmarked for social service spending under the charitable choice provision of the 1996 welfare reform law ($47 billion annually), into 'indirect assistance,' that is into vouchers."
Read the full report by Bill Berkowitz in Working for Change
New York Times / Washington Post - August 18, 2001 - "The departure of John DiIulio means George Bush officially becomes the president of white America" John DiIulio resigns as head of Faith Based Initiative. Stunning blow is dealt to Republican President Select George W. Bush's scheme to privatize and religion-ize welfare. John DiIulio is resigning as head of the Bush Administration's so-called Faith Based Initiative (FBI). The Washington Post reports that:
...DiIulio's allies charged that the resignation meant the
White House's faith initiative...had been taken over by religious
Head of Religion-Based Initiative Resigns, New York Times
DiIulio Resigns From Top 'Faith-Based' Post , Washington Post
MT's John DiIulio page
$677,000 to "DiIulio"
The report goes on to say that:
The scams are spread mostly through quasi-religious meetings
where God, Gospel and greed are mixed in an intoxicating cocktail
promising heavenly financial rewards.
Novak, who has written (absurdly) of "Business as a [religious] Calling," has spent the better part of the last 15 years making the rounds of Latin America and Eastern Europe pushing neoconservative economic polices in the name of Pope John Paul II - who in actuality is an opponent of neo con (or neo-liberal, as the Pope puts it) globalization policies.
Novak's buddy George Weigel, from the Ethics and Public Policy Center (the outfit that housed Elliott Abrams), even wrote a bio of the Pope - with John Paul II's help - called Witness to Hope, in which he reinterpreted a number of the Pope's positions to torture out of them support for neoconservative economic polics
Since then, the Pope has issued a 1999 encyclical titled "Ecclesia in America," which reiterates and strengthens his opposition to neoconservative capitalist economic policies.
Read the fascinating tale of Michael Novak and his religion of "Wealth Creation" by Mark and Louise Zwick, two Catholics from Houston who operate a shelter which takes care of the victims of the policies which Novak has advocated in the name of the Pope.
Fraud in the name of Gold - Securities regulators see sharp rise in religious-based scams - MSNBC
The Economic Religion of Michael Novak: Wealth Creation vs. the Gospel
MT's Michael Novak page.
The update also points out how the Salvation Army is technically a church, and already receives $300 million per year from government.
Read the update in the Washington Post
Or in the New York Times: Charity Is Told It Must Abide by Antidiscrimination Laws
...The report also offers an image of the Salvation Army starkly different from that of volunteers ringing bells outside shopping malls at Christmas -- a notion that concerns the charity. "The Salvation Army's role will be a surprise to many in the media," it says, urging efforts to "minimize the possibility of any 'leak' to the media."
Read the full report in the Washington Post
June 25, 2001
The story also reports the political involvment of Michael Joyce, head of the Bradley Foundation, who is the chief executive of the entire conservative movement:
The administration has also been working behind the scenes
to build support for the plan. Michael S. Joyce, a proponent
of school choice who has been developing the intellectual framework
for faith-based efforts for 12 years, said Bush asked him at
a Rose Garden ceremony May 10, "Did Karl call you yet?"
Joyce said Karl Rove, Bush's senior adviser, phoned later that
day and asked Joyce "to undertake a private initiative to
help get this legislation through."
Joyce then immediately created TWO new organizations to create support for Bush's initiative. See the press release announcing the creation of the two new groups
Read the full news report in the Washington Post
Read all about the faith based movement, and how Joyce is its prime figure.
...Bush's argument skipped the distinctions between programs such as Habitat for Humanity and more overtly religious charities. Critics of Bush's faith-based initiative complain that weakened regulations on the funding of religious charities could cause the government to bankroll programs that coerce participants to be religious...
Habitat for Humanity, however, would not be affected by the more controversial parts of Bush's program...
Read the full report in the Washington Post
Read the full story in the New York Times
Walters served in the previous Republican administration's Department of Education as the head of the Schools Without Drugs prevention program, then served under William J. Bennett when he was drug czar.
Walters also was president of the New Citizenship Project, which (according to the New York Times) "promoted the role of religion in public life," and was co-author with John J. DiIulio and Bennett of the hysterical and wildly inaccurate 1996 book titled Body Count, which predicted a wave of young "superpredators" would soon terrorize the nation, and was used to spur a new wave of juvenile incarceration.
This appointment looks to be another blow to civil liberties, as another New York Times report says that "Walters has stressed the importance of criminal penalties for drug users" and that the new effort will focus (to a greater degree than in the past) on the demand side of drug use.
Read the full report in The New York Times.
MILWAUKEE GENESIS - Read about where the Faith-based movement REALLY comes from. A Media Transparency Websclusive by Phil Wilayto.
Read the full story in the Washington Monthly
$277,000 to John J. DiIulio
Read the MediaTransparency Websclusive by Phil Wilayto.
$677,000 to "DiIulio"
John DiIulio, who once spread fear about juvenile "superpredators," will now run President Bush's faith-based charity programs...the greatest impact of which will be to lay the groundwork for a national GOP patronage machine to rival the old days of Richard Daley and Boss Tweed...the damage [from his previous failure of vision] came because DiIulio -- judging from his subsequent regret -- failed to see the cynical political uses to which his research...would be put. The same...is true of his new elevation to the White House. DiIulio wants to promote good works. Instead, he's been hired as chief engineer for a patronage machine. Read the full report in Salon.com
Church/State Separation Issues in the Federal Government