[Hpn] Passage of Faith BAsed Initiative Bad News for Faith Based Ministries

JReynalds@aol.com JReynalds@aol.com
Fri, 20 Jul 2001 17:58:37 EDT


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From:  Jeremy Reynalds, Executive Director Joy Junction, New Mexico's larges=
t=20
emergency homeless shelter.
www.joyjunction.org

Amid hurrahs from conservatives,  President Bush's faith-based initiative=20
passed the House by a 233-198 vote despite efforts by opponents to gut the=20
bill.
    However, it's not the good news that you might think and unless the plan=
=20
dies in the Senate (of which there's a good possibility) faith-based=20
ministries applying for federal monies will be headed on the rocky road to=20
disaster.  =20
    As founder and executive director of New Mexico's largest emergency=20
homeless shelter (and speaking personally, a conservative social and fiscal=20
Republican as well as a Bush supporter), Let me explain why once and for all=
=20
it's time for the President's plan to die and why it is risky business for=20
the very organizations it purports to help.
    To show you how bad it is, let me explain by using some of the points=20
made by the liberal Americans United for the Separation of Church and State;=
=20
a group with which I have many serious points of contention. ( When I DO=20
agree with even one of the points made by Americans United, you've gotta kno=
w=20
there's something going on which deserves your careful scrutiny).=20
    Just in case you'd never heard of them before, Americans United (AU) is=20
according to the group's web site, " a religious liberty watchdog group base=
d=20
in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization (claims to) represents=
=20
70,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states."
    Incidentally, the AU is already threatening a lawsuit, saying "This bill=
=20
joins church and state in unholy matrimony," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn,=20
executive director of Americans United. "If the Bush initiative becomes law,=
=20
we'll go to court and file for divorce."
    Well, here's something that hasn't received a lot of attention; either i=
n=20
evangelical or in secular media. According to the AU, the Bush administratio=
n=20
has told Congress that faith-based groups will be unable to include religiou=
s=20
activities in their programs if they receive government funding.
    Speaking before a House Judiciciary Subcommittee on June 7, a Justice=20
Department attorney representing the White House was asked if a faith-based=20
group would be allowed to take funds under the Bush plan and still hold=20
religious activities? According to a report on the AU web site, the attorney=
=20
=E2=80=98s answer was "no."
    This appears to be a real about-face for the Bush administration, but an=
=20
inevitable one nonetheless. Allowing Christian faith based groups to receive=
=20
government funding and continue with their religious programs seemed to me t=
o=20
be a sure fire way to generate a plethora of lawsuits; if not from individua=
l=20
clients being assisted by the faith based groups, most certainly from=20
organizations such as Americans United and the American Civil Liberties=20
Union.       =20
    Not surprisingly, Lynn was quick to comment on the Bush administration's=
=20
apparent flip flop, calling it  "a major departure from the Bush=20
administration's past stance (and one that means the White House) "is either=
=20
in full retreat or complete disarray ... In the past, the president and his=20
allies have insisted that religious groups get funding without sacrificing=20
their religious character. Now Bush's people seem to be saying religious=20
groups must drop all religious activity if they get public funds. Which is=20
it?"
    Good question; which indeed? If the legislative uncertainty wasn't enoug=
h=20
of a good reason for turning down government monies, here's another good=20
reason. Lynn correctly observes that  faith based ministries opting for=20
government funding are in effect providing an open invitation for the=20
government to regulate their religion. That's because the government is=20
obligated to regulate everything that it funds. As Lynn comments, "Once=20
churches, temples, mosques and synagogues are being financed by the public,=20
some of their freedom will be placed in jeopardy by the almost certain=20
regulation to follow. Houses of worship that have flourished as private=20
institutions may suddenly have their books audited or face regular spot=20
checks by federal inspectors in order to ensure appropriate =E2=80=98account=
ability.'"
    Faith based "ministries" desiring federal intrusion should go ahead and=20
take government funding. The faith-based element of their program will=20
quickly become as extinct as the dinosaur. Those wanting to maintain and eve=
n=20
increase their faith- based distinctive might consider doing what we have=20
done and are continuing to do at Joy Junction.
    Firstly, we have never taken and have no plans to ever take government=20
funding or do anything that might jeopardize the evangelical Christian=20
underpinning upon which Joy Junction is built.
    Secondarily, we are beginning to turn away any offers of volunteer help=20
for our guests that are opposed to our Christian philosophy.  Some of you ma=
y=20
recall, a few months ago we turned down an approximately $1200.00 gift that=20
was raised by a gay group that decided to stage a drag show. While we exist=20
to help the homeless, we do in conformity with basic Christian principles. W=
e=20
felt that such activities undermined the very essence of our existence.
    Soon after, we changed the on-site medical providers for our guests at=20
Joy Junction, from a group that while offering excellent medical care held=20
viewpoints that were incompatible with ours, to a volunteer doctor and his=20
team that minister spiritually while they are assisting medically.=20
    Additionally, while the local school district offers an excellent after=20
school tutoring program for homeless kids, it is based upon secular=20
humanistic philosophy and sometimes espouses viewpoints that are incompatibl=
e=20
with evangelical Christianity. As soon as enough qualified individuals of ou=
r=20
faith persuasion come forward, we will move from the secular program to one=20
that embraces an evangelical perspective.
    And so the list goes on. Our philosophy will be that we want to provide=20
the very best care and assistance for our guests. There will always be=20
shelter, food and Bible study.  Also included amongst a variety of other=20
important skills being taught might be maintenance,  computer skills, resume=
=20
writing, lessons in how to balance a check and dressing for success.=20
    But emphasized in the teaching as the foundational building block upon=20
which all of these skills should be based will be the necessity of having a=20
relationship with Jesus Christ. At Joy Junction (along with President Bush)=20
we believe that faith is the most important key toward getting back on one's=
=20
feet again.  Those faith-based ministries electing to take government fundin=
g=20
will have to decide whether they still believe that.=20
   =20





















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<HTML><FONT FACE=3Darial,helvetica><FONT  SIZE=3D2>From: &nbsp;Jeremy Reynal=
ds, Executive Director Joy Junction, New Mexico's largest=20
<BR>emergency homeless shelter.
<BR>www.joyjunction.org
<BR>
<BR>Amid hurrahs from conservatives, &nbsp;President Bush's faith-based init=
iative=20
<BR>passed the House by a 233-198 vote despite efforts by opponents to gut t=
he=20
<BR>bill.
<BR>    However, it's not the good news that you might think and unless the=20=
plan=20
<BR>dies in the Senate (of which there's a good possibility) faith-based=20
<BR>ministries applying for federal monies will be headed on the rocky road=20=
to=20
<BR>disaster. &nbsp;&nbsp;
<BR>    As founder and executive director of New Mexico's largest emergency=20
<BR>homeless shelter (and speaking personally, a conservative social and fis=
cal=20
<BR>Republican as well as a Bush supporter), Let me explain why once and for=
 all=20
<BR>it's time for the President's plan to die and why it is risky business f=
or=20
<BR>the very organizations it purports to help.
<BR>    To show you how bad it is, let me explain by using some of the point=
s=20
<BR>made by the liberal Americans United for the Separation of Church and St=
ate;=20
<BR>a group with which I have many serious points of contention. ( When I DO=
=20
<BR>agree with even one of the points made by Americans United, you've gotta=
 know=20
<BR>there's something going on which deserves your careful scrutiny).=20
<BR>    Just in case you'd never heard of them before, Americans United (AU)=
 is=20
<BR>according to the group's web site, " a religious liberty watchdog group=20=
based=20
<BR>in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization (claims to) repres=
ents=20
<BR>70,000 members and allied houses of worship in all 50 states."
<BR>    Incidentally, the AU is already threatening a lawsuit, saying "This=20=
bill=20
<BR>joins church and state in unholy matrimony," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn=
,=20
<BR>executive director of Americans United. "If the Bush initiative becomes=20=
law,=20
<BR>we'll go to court and file for divorce."
<BR>    Well, here's something that hasn't received a lot of attention; eith=
er in=20
<BR>evangelical or in secular media. According to the AU, the Bush administr=
ation=20
<BR>has told Congress that faith-based groups will be unable to include reli=
gious=20
<BR>activities in their programs if they receive government funding.
<BR>    Speaking before a House Judiciciary Subcommittee on June 7, a Justic=
e=20
<BR>Department attorney representing the White House was asked if a faith-ba=
sed=20
<BR>group would be allowed to take funds under the Bush plan and still hold=20
<BR>religious activities? According to a report on the AU web site, the atto=
rney=20
<BR>=E2=80=98s answer was "no."
<BR>    This appears to be a real about-face for the Bush administration, bu=
t an=20
<BR>inevitable one nonetheless. Allowing Christian faith based groups to rec=
eive=20
<BR>government funding and continue with their religious programs seemed to=20=
me to=20
<BR>be a sure fire way to generate a plethora of lawsuits; if not from indiv=
idual=20
<BR>clients being assisted by the faith based groups, most certainly from=20
<BR>organizations such as Americans United and the American Civil Liberties=20
<BR>Union. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;
<BR>    Not surprisingly, Lynn was quick to comment on the Bush administrati=
on's=20
<BR>apparent flip flop, calling it &nbsp;"a major departure from the Bush=20
<BR>administration's past stance (and one that means the White House) "is ei=
ther=20
<BR>in full retreat or complete disarray ... In the past, the president and=20=
his=20
<BR>allies have insisted that religious groups get funding without sacrifici=
ng=20
<BR>their religious character. Now Bush's people seem to be saying religious=
=20
<BR>groups must drop all religious activity if they get public funds. Which=20=
is=20
<BR>it?"
<BR>    Good question; which indeed? If the legislative uncertainty wasn't e=
nough=20
<BR>of a good reason for turning down government monies, here's another good=
=20
<BR>reason. Lynn correctly observes that &nbsp;faith based ministries opting=
 for=20
<BR>government funding are in effect providing an open invitation for the=20
<BR>government to regulate their religion. That's because the government is=20
<BR>obligated to regulate everything that it funds. As Lynn comments, "Once=20
<BR>churches, temples, mosques and synagogues are being financed by the publ=
ic,=20
<BR>some of their freedom will be placed in jeopardy by the almost certain=20
<BR>regulation to follow. Houses of worship that have flourished as private=20
<BR>institutions may suddenly have their books audited or face regular spot=20
<BR>checks by federal inspectors in order to ensure appropriate =E2=80=98acc=
ountability.'"
<BR>    Faith based "ministries" desiring federal intrusion should go ahead=20=
and=20
<BR>take government funding. The faith-based element of their program will=20
<BR>quickly become as extinct as the dinosaur. Those wanting to maintain and=
 even=20
<BR>increase their faith- based distinctive might consider doing what we hav=
e=20
<BR>done and are continuing to do at Joy Junction.
<BR>    Firstly, we have never taken and have no plans to ever take governme=
nt=20
<BR>funding or do anything that might jeopardize the evangelical Christian=20
<BR>underpinning upon which Joy Junction is built.
<BR>    Secondarily, we are beginning to turn away any offers of volunteer h=
elp=20
<BR>for our guests that are opposed to our Christian philosophy. &nbsp;Some=20=
of you may=20
<BR>recall, a few months ago we turned down an approximately $1200.00 gift t=
hat=20
<BR>was raised by a gay group that decided to stage a drag show. While we ex=
ist=20
<BR>to help the homeless, we do in conformity with basic Christian principle=
s. We=20
<BR>felt that such activities undermined the very essence of our existence.
<BR>    Soon after, we changed the on-site medical providers for our guests=20=
at=20
<BR>Joy Junction, from a group that while offering excellent medical care he=
ld=20
<BR>viewpoints that were incompatible with ours, to a volunteer doctor and h=
is=20
<BR>team that minister spiritually while they are assisting medically.=20
<BR>    Additionally, while the local school district offers an excellent af=
ter=20
<BR>school tutoring program for homeless kids, it is based upon secular=20
<BR>humanistic philosophy and sometimes espouses viewpoints that are incompa=
tible=20
<BR>with evangelical Christianity. As soon as enough qualified individuals o=
f our=20
<BR>faith persuasion come forward, we will move from the secular program to=20=
one=20
<BR>that embraces an evangelical perspective.
<BR>    And so the list goes on. Our philosophy will be that we want to prov=
ide=20
<BR>the very best care and assistance for our guests. There will always be=20
<BR>shelter, food and Bible study. &nbsp;Also included amongst a variety of=20=
other=20
<BR>important skills being taught might be maintenance, &nbsp;computer skill=
s, resume=20
<BR>writing, lessons in how to balance a check and dressing for success.=20
<BR>    But emphasized in the teaching as the foundational building block up=
on=20
<BR>which all of these skills should be based will be the necessity of havin=
g a=20
<BR>relationship with Jesus Christ. At Joy Junction (along with President Bu=
sh)=20
<BR>we believe that faith is the most important key toward getting back on o=
ne's=20
<BR>feet again. &nbsp;Those faith-based ministries electing to take governme=
nt funding=20
<BR>will have to decide whether they still believe that.=20
<BR>   =20
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