According to this news item: Newsday.com – Faith-Based Initiative Fight Not Over, the Bush administration plans to continue pushing for its faith-based legislation to be enacted.
After pressing for an ambitious bill that would make it easier for faith-based charity groups to receive federal funding, while exempting them from adherence to state anti-discrimination laws, Republicans Thursday failed to marshal the votes for Senate passage. Instead, less than a week after the Senate sliced the president’s tax cut by $100 billion, Republicans settled for a bill that grants tax breaks for charitable giving and pledges $150 million to help small charities, including faith-based groups, expand.
I’ve added emphasis to the bit of this new legislation that really, really bothers me. I’m not necessarily opposed to the idea that faith-based organizations providing social programs should be included in consideration for federal funds. There are a number of them out there that provide a valuable community service without forcing their religious views down the throats of the people who require their assistance and they do a better job at providing those services than some similar state or federal-run programs. I don’t see any harm in allowing those groups to get a little of the federal funding pie so they can continue to provide a much needed service.
I do have a problem with the groups that use their social programs as a means of proselytizing to a captive audience. I also have a problem with groups who willfully discriminate on religious grounds from doing so with federal money. By promoting legislation that would effectively revoke state anti-discrimination laws from applying to religious groups using these federal funds you pretty much set yourself up for a situation that is in clear violation of the first amendment. If these groups really want to help the poor then they’ll play by the rules or they should do it alone using their own funds.