[Hpn] Faith Based Initiatives JUSTIFY more Welfare Cuts? Your opinion?

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Tue, 6 Feb 2001 06:49:49 -0800 (PST)

Will the US government use Faith Based Initiatives to "justify" more federal cuts in "material aid" (income & housing) to poor & homeless people? In your view, would such an outcome be "just"? Why or why not? ``My take is the government is trying to shirk its responsibility to take care of poor people.'' -- Hank Hughes, executive director of St. Elizabeth's, a non faith-based agency that helps the homeless http://newsfinder.arinet.com/fpweb/fp.dll/$stargeneral/htm/x_dv.htm/_ibyx/cg0302 6/_itox/starnet/_svc/news/_Id/701190721/_k/fR4hgMf66LbGYAoT FWD Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Feb 04 2001 BUSH PROPOSAL RAISES QUESTIONS AMONG RELIGOIUS LEADERS SANTA FE (AP) _ A proposal by President George W. Bush to get more religious groups involved in providing social services in their communities is raising questions among some religious leaders in New Mexico. The president wants to expand aid to religious organizations that offer social services. Although the administration has not released any cost estimates, the proposal apparently would put religious groups on equal footing with other agencies that seek billions of dollars in federal grants. The reactions in Santa Fe and Hobbs have been mixed. Some welcome any new funding to relieve the problems of poverty and hunger in the city, but others worry that the proposal will take money away from other deserving organizations. ``Are they expecting churches to pick up the load, to become a welfare agency ... that kind of bothers me,'' said Father Richard Murphy, rector at St. Bede's Episcopal Church. ``If it's a partnership where church-based organizations can be a recipient of federal money to do what they do, that would be fine.'' Bush has said he hopes more churches will take the lead in social service programs if the government provides seed money through a ``compassion capital fund.'' Hank Hughes, executive director of St. Elizabeth's, a non faith-based agency that helps the homeless, also expressed skepticism. ``My take is the government is trying to shirk its responsibility to take care of poor people,'' Hughes said. ``It's everybody's responsibility, not just religious people.'' Hughes adds that churches are not necessarily designed to provide social services. ``I think the thing that's missing from the debate is that the Bush administration ... thinks the churches can do it better than the government or secular groups,'' Hughes said. ``I don't think that's true. Anyone can do it if they have enough resources. The point is we don't have enough resources.'' Federal officials have said government agencies will make sure there are secular alternatives to any services provided by a religious group. Gregory Kepferle, executive director of Catholic Charities in Santa Fe, said social service agencies should be careful not to impose their religious beliefs as a requirement for service. ``That's a dangerous way to use religion _ you need to believe as we do before we'll house you or feed you,'' he said. ``We're not called to shelter the homeless only if they pray to our God. We're called regardless of who they are.'' Gorton Smith, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Hobbs, echoed Kepferle. ``If we do have a program that can be federally funded, I'd be happy to do it as long as there's no restrictions on the worship or the free exercise of our religion,'' Smith said. AP-WS-02-04-01 1435EST Received Id AP1010353F41BC8E on Feb 04 2001 13:36 END FORWARD **In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without charge or profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this type of information for non-profit research and educational purposes only.** Visit HPN for CONSTANTLY UPDATING NEWS on Homeless People: *************************************************************** Over 10,000 articles by or via homeless & ex-homeless people Been Homeless? Then JOIN! EMAIL Tom Boland <wgcp@earthlink.net> Nothing About Us Without Us - Democratize Public Policy ***************************************************************