Tuesday, February 08, 2005

'Faith-based' ... in big government

via the Augusta Free Press : 'Faith-based' ... in big government:

OK, here goes. I'm going to get in trouble for saying this, but I don't care. As a card-carrying member of the Christian Right, it is my responsibility to be an unbiased critic when my friends go off reservation.

With that caveat, allow me to express my shock at the conservative pundits who are attacking fellow commentators Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher for accepting $240,000 and $41,000, respectively, in bribe money from the Bush administration to support White House programs on education and marriage. Such criticism represents the height of hypocrisy.

A couple months ago, it was reported that the Bush administration, through its Office of Faith-Based Initiatives, has doled out millions of dollars to conservative Christian organizations. Pat Robertson received $1.5 million. Chuck Colson’s Prison Fellowship Ministries was one of four groups selected to receive a $22.5 million grant. Catholic Relief Services, World Vision and the Salvation Army have all received pork from Uncle Sam; and Campus Crusade for Christ, Samaritan's Purse (Billy Graham's son's ministry) and other evangelical organizations have applied for access to the government trough.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love supporting crises pregnancy centers and other charities that promote abstinence and counsel women against having abortions. I donate to them regularly. But I don't see any provision in the U.S. Constitution that gives the president of the United States the right to direct billions of dollars of taxpayer money (our money) to the charities of his choice.

Perhaps the most frustrating fact about this faith-based fleecing of American taxpayers is that the gate-keepers of much of this government pork are the very organizations and individuals who sought to de-fund leftist groups during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations.

A Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the Bush administration hired independent experts to review grant applications for one of its abstinence programs. Reading the list of grant reviewers is like reading off a list of who’s who in the Religious Right. Summit Ministries, Turning Point, the Family Research Council, Concerned Women for America, the Christian Coalition, the Traditional Values Coalition and Paul Weyrich's Free Congress Foundation are all gate-keepers in President Bush's faith-based welfare program.

OK, so that's one honest, principled winger. Any others?


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