[Hpn] Bush Starts Drive For 'Faith-Based' Social Services

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Tue, 30 Jan 2001 12:36:29 -0700

Oh, boy! The SF Chronicle now has a Washington Bureau! And judging from this
article, they're every bit as clueless as the Chron's City Hall reporters.

Why do I say that? Well first, there's existing legal precedence to prevent
these bible-jocks from cramming their propaganda down the throats of folks
seeking a meal or a bed. The trick part for a homeless person seeking remedy
for such First Amendment abuses is finding a pro-bono attorney to sue,
especially in lesser-developed and socially backward areas where a lack of
services lends far more legitimacy to faith-based service providers than
they're actually due (a lá our HPN correspondent Joy-Boy at Joy Junction).

But the Chronicle also misses the key point: faith-based social services are
considered churches, so there's absolutely no public fiscal oversight. ZERO.
Bloated salaries coupled with lack of public accountability is already the
biggest problem with current government-funded non-profit homeless service
providers. That's why it costs so much to provide homeless services. And
don't you know that everyday more and more of these religious racketeers
subscribe to the delusion (or rationalization) that JESUS loves them SOOO
much that he wants to reward them with fat paychecks and perks for doing the

Give me a fucking break, OK?

So long as homeless services continue to be predicated on the "inadequacies
of the individual," homelessness is going to continue to be a revolving door
for most people who are homeless. Now they want to expand that to include
some asshole fundamentalist's determination of a homeless person's spiritual
fitness? We're not talking social engineering anymore, we're talking
cultural warfare. 

Tom, I don't know which was the bigger tragedy -- that the Romans fed enough
of these jerks to the lions to create martyrs of them, or that they didn't
feed ALL of these jerks to lions.



Bush Starts Drive For 'Faith-Based' Social Services
Zachary Coile, 
Chronicle Washington Bureau

Tuesday, January 30, 2001
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle


Washington -- Citing the power of religion to "save and change lives,"
President Bush began an ambitious effort yesterday to thrust faith-based
groups into a more central role in government-funded social programs.

But the president had barely finished explaining his proposal at a White
House ceremony when it was attacked by civil libertarians and some religious
leaders, who warn it threatens the division between church and state.

Bush, surrounded by Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, signed an
executive order yesterday creating a new White House Office of Faith-Based
and Community Initiatives, which is charged with helping religious groups
compete for billions of dollars in government grants.

He signed a second order directing five federal departments -- Health and
Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Education and Justice
-- to open centers to help faith-based groups apply for federal money.

"Government will never be replaced by charities and community groups," Bush
said. "Yet when we see social needs in America, my administration will look
first to faith-based programs and community groups, which have proven their
power to save and change lives."

Bush, who pledged during the campaign to rally the "armies of compassion" to
battle poverty and other social ills, planned to announce today a package of
legislative reforms he will send to Congress.

The plan would allow people who do not itemize deductions on their tax
returns to claim deductions for charitable donations, White House spokesman
Ari Fleischer said. Congress and President Ronald Reagan removed that
provision in 1986.

Even before the details of the president's legislative plan emerge,
advocates of church-state separation promised to fight it.

"Bush's plan is the single greatest assault on church-state separation in
modern American history," said Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of
Americans United for Separation of Church and State, whose group is weighing
a legal challenge.

"The First Amendment was intended to create a separation between religion
and government, not a massive new bureaucracy that unites the two."

The proposal also faces resistance from some congregations and faith-based
groups that aren't eager to abide by the government-imposed rules that come
attached to grant money.

Several religious leaders raised questions about whether the plan favors
evangelical Christians, a group that strongly backed Bush in the campaign,
over other denominations.

"Is he as willing to fund a faith-based charity in a religion that attempts
to change people's lives by having them become a Muslim as he is in funding
an organization that attempts that change by encouraging people to become
Christian?" said Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, a Baptist pastor who heads the
Interfaith Alliance, which represents members of 50 religious denominations.

Bush, who said last week that his proposals would be controversial, tried to
allay those fears by pledging a "commitment to pluralism."

At the White House ceremony, he was flanked by a Catholic nun, a Muslim
imam, an Orthodox Jew and several black ministers -- an attempt to show a
picture of religious unity. In a private meeting before the announcement,
Bush, who was opposed by nine out of 10 black voters in November, met with
the group and, according to several participants, joked: "If this was about
politics, this room would be kind of empty, if you know what I mean."

Bush also announced the appointment of two key advisers to oversee the
initiatives: a University of Pennsylvania political science professor, John
J. DiIulio Jr., to run the new White House office, and former Indianapolis
Mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who was appointed to a seat on the board of the
Corporation for National Service and will be Bush's top adviser on
faith-based initiatives.

DiIulio, a juvenile justice expert, helped devise a program in Boston to
reduce youth homicides, which included access to religious counseling.
Goldsmith, a domestic policy adviser to Bush during the campaign, led the
effort in Indianapolis to contract out social services to faith-based

As governor of Texas, Bush strongly backed the "Charitable Choice"
provisions of the welfare reform law, signed by President Bill Clinton in
1996, allowing churches and other groups serving the poor to accept
government anti- poverty funds without renouncing their religious

He campaigned for president promising $8 billion in tax incentives to
encourage charitable work, grants for maternity homes for unwed mothers and
mentoring programs for children and prison inmates -- all of which would be
open to faith-based groups.

In his announcement yesterday, Bush stressed that government money can't be
used to fund religious activities. But civil libertarians say churches and
other faith-based groups often use religion as the central element in
services such as drug and alcohol treatment.

"The whole heart and foundation of what they're trying to do is offer people
spiritual renewal and recovery and bringing them to God," said Terri
Schroeder, a lobbyist for the American Civil Liberties Union.

Richard Stahlke, president of Lutheran Social Services of Northern
California -- an organization in Oakland that contracts with the government
to provide transitional housing, AIDS services and counseling for at-risk
teenagers -- said he sees no problem with religious groups providing
services, as long as the government watches carefully how taxpayer dollars
are spent.

"I think many of the local congregations and synagogues and mosques are not
necessarily oriented or have the background or experience to assure that the
kind of accountability (needed) for the services is presented," said
Stahlke, whose group's $4 million annual budget is provided mostly by
federal, state and local governments.

"Simply to indiscriminately make moneys available because it is a faith-
based organization and then assume that that is going to solve a problem is
not an appropriate or accurate assumption."

John DiIulio Profile

John DiIulio, named yesterday by President Bush as head of the new Office of
Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, is an Ivy League political scientist
who spends as much time on the streets as in the seminar room. A colleague
describes him as "Joe Pesci with a Ph.D."

The 42-year-old public policy professor at the University of Pennsylvania
helped devise and run a program in Boston that is credited in part with a 77
percent decline in youth homicides during the 1990s. The program includes
truancy courts in schools and stricter enforcement of probation. Youths have
access to religious counseling, but it is not mandatory.

DiIulio has long been an advocate of strong punishment for crime, but now
places more emphasis on prevention.

His writings have sometimes brought controversy. In 1996, he described the
most dangerous youth offenders as "superpredators."

Source: Associated Press

Chronicle news services contributed to this report. / E-mail Zachary Coile
at zcoile@sfchronicle.com.

©2001 San Francisco Chronicle   Page A1