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Americans United want unreligious faith-based organizations

So-called “Reverend” Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State is displeased with President Obama’s recent executive order regarding publicly funded faith-based organizations.

The order requires federal agencies to offer alternatives to faith-based organizations in the dispensing of social services.  Translation: more unnecessary government spending.  If ministries and churches are able to carry the weight, why bring in government bureaucracy or spend more money finding secular organizations willing to help?

But what got Lynn really upset is that religious organizations accepting federal funding are allowed to be, well, religious.  The AU website comments that they are “disappointed that the order allows public funds to go directly to houses of worship, allows publicly funded faith-based charities to display religious signs and scriptures and entirely dodges the issue of religious hiring bias by faith-based charities that receive federal funds.”

Yes, you read it correctly.  Lynn and his pseudo-Christian counterparts want Christian churches or ministries that give food to the poor, clothing to the naked, medicine to the sick, homes for orphaned children and abused mothers, and adoption services to take down symbols of what inspires them to be charitable in the first place: their faith.

Aside from the unconstitutionality of the proposal, wouldn’t that be counterproductive as well?

Comments:

Billy, there's no set definition for 'proselytize', other than "to attempt to convert others". But in real life, what actually constitutes proselytization is fuzzy, and defining it in a meaningful legal sense is a big part of the issue. There are some CPCs that give Christian brochures to the women who visit them - I would say this crosses the line into proselytization. (These centers aren't federally funded, as far as I know).

It's appropriate, I think, for adoption centers to be denied federal funds if they discrimate based on race/sexuality/religion/etc. Adoption is a very public thing, and if a religious group is unable to be unbiased because of their beliefs, they shouldn't be involved.
It's not so different from utilities. I don't believe that if a Catholic group was running the water utility they should have the right to exclude LGBT couples from the water system. Likewise for hospitals.

But even so, there's no reason for Christian organizations to get out of adoption work. A majority of Americans support homosexual adoption (53% for, 40% against), and even more so amongst Catholics (61% - 33%).

http://www.quinnipiac.edu/x1295.xml?ReleaseID=1292
I'm not having a clear day
I agree with you. The secularists and non Christian groups would not be involved. The outright government works are the ones I consider marginally successful if not at all.

I sure wouldn't want PP in the adoption business. That's not their core competency. Eliminating adoption is their line.

Somewhere near the start of the thread I agreed with Jason, that Christian non profits ought to spurn government funding. No government money no strings.

The issue of the government flat out putting the privately funded work out of business becuase of unreasanable demands is truly troubling and a harbinger of more to come. Chucks Commentary today on the Smith ruling points out the future we face.
Terrell,
I didn't say that they would be marginally successful without the faith, I'm saying that they wouldn't be involved in the first place. There's a difference. So, no, I didn't make your point--you're arguing a point I haven't made.

If you compare secular or atheistic organizations and their impact on society, with regard to social welfare and benefit, it would pale in comparison to that of religious organizations (esp. Christianity).

Also, some ministries would shutdown altogether, without the federal funds. The examples of this are the multiple adoption agencies of Roman Catholic Dioceses' that shutdown because they were forced to do something contrary to their faith. It started with a removal of federal funds, and before you knew it they were being told what to do with private funds as well. It's a slippery slope, as the saying goes.

Your model would leave the adoption work, for instance, in the hands of Planned Parenthood rather than Christian organizations. That's not what most American's want--and I hope it's not what you want either.

You model is idealistic at best, and inherently flawed at worst.
Terrell,
I didn't say that they would be marginally successful without the faith, I'm saying that they wouldn't be involved in the first place. There's a difference. So, no, I didn't make your point--you're arguing a point I haven't made.

If you compare secular or atheistic organizations and their impact on society, with regard to social welfare and benefit, it would pale in comparison to that of religious organizations (esp. Christianity).

Also, so ministries would shutdown altogether, without the federal funds. The examples of this are the multiple adoption agencies of Roman Catholic Dioceses' that shutdown because they were forced to do something contrary to their faith.

Your model would leave the adoption work, for instance, in the hands of Planned Parenthood rather than Christian organizations. That's not what most American's want--and I hope it's not what you want either.

You model is idealistic at best, and inherently flawed at worst.
Billy
you made my point. The underlying success of the Christian ministries is the transformation of lives by way of the Gospel. If the government prohibits the evangeslistic thrust then the ministry is likely to be marginally successful. I'll take privately funded success over publicly funded marginal success.

I think some of the other truth claims don't do works like this because their constructs do not mandate them to.
Ben W,
Please give me your definition of "proselytize."

So you are ok with religious groups doing social good, as long as they don't act religious? You do understand, don't you, that it is their faith that inspires most of them to do social good? That's why there aren't many atheistic or secular groups tending to the sick and dying, putting on clothing drives, giving shelter to the homeless, etc. Churches do FAR more than any other group in these areas.
I think you misunderstand my position. I don't have any problem with federal funds going to a religious group, so long as that group doesn't proselytize.

(clarifying re:abortion). I know that there is debate about the morality of abortion, but since I don't believe that abortions early in pregnancy kill a human person, I think they are amoral. But yes, let's please ignore this bunny-trail.
Ben W,
Ben, I don't think this is about proselytizing. I think this is about whether or not religious institutions are regarded as having a proper role in society that is worthy of public funds. Do we, or do we not, have significant impact on helping those in need (poor, prisoners, etc)? Since there are few secular groups doing the work that Christianity does, it's hard to say without us society would prosper the way it has. If our proselytizing and program design decreased poverty, increased education, reduced recidivism, etc, why would that be a problem?

I'm fine with Muslims and Jews getting funding for similar services. It just so happens that there are FAR less Muslim and Jewish groups providing the services that Christians do. Equal opportunity at fed. funds is fine with me. But it seems that you want unequal opportunity by giving secular groups priority. Seems like religious discrimination to me.

Your notion that abortion is a-moral is a point I'd rather ignore, given how repulsive it is. I find people to have inherent value, not value based on income and education. I don't see the connection between being worthy of life and the conditions with which we live. Murder isn't better than poverty in my opinion. Your belief that abortion is not a moral issue is mind-boggling.
Actually Ben, I'd be perfectly fine with Mormons providing abortion counseling and prison ministry. As for Moslems, my main objection is that some Moslems use prison ministries as a chance to cultivate future terrorists.

But your point does stand as well as the third point, and that is that it is bound to lead to silliness. If government is to subsidize all faiths equally, sooner or later it will end up subsidizing Jedis.
Sorry, Billy, I was referring to the quote from AU that you posted: "the order allows public funds to go directly to houses of worship, allows publicly funded faith-based charities to display religious signs and scriptures and entirely dodges the issue of religious hiring bias by faith-based charities that receive federal funds."

My experience with these organizations is that proselytization is ubiqitous, if subtle. Abortion counseling and prison ministry can certainly be both proselytization and a benefit to all of society - and I think they often are. But regardless of whether we call it "proselytization" - you'd be fine with Mormon and Islamic groups getting funding for providing similar services in similar settings, right?

Re: constitutionality, the government can neither promote *nor* prohibit the exercise of a religion(s). I'm a little torn over the issue, as I appreciate the work that Christian groups do - but I can also appreciate how people of different faiths object to taxpayer money going to religious groups, or to how uncomfortable it may be to use these services in a blatantly other-religion setting. Easier to just cut the cord between state and religious funds.

(It's also arguable whether "less abortion" is always a benefit to society, given how early childbirth tends to go hand-in-hand with poverty and quitting school. But I know that you hold that abortion is always wrong, so you'll see it differently than I, who sees abortion as mostly a-moral).

PS - I'm doing my best to see if I can actually find any real evidence on mix of federal funding and proselytization. That's what this is about, right? I know there are Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) that receive federal funding, and CPCs that proselytize, but I don't know if there are CPCs that do both.
Ben W,
Ben, I never said anything about proselytizing with federal funds. You're hold up a straw man argument.

I was talking about faith-based groups using federal funds in their social programs. Pre and Post-abortion counseling, prison ministry, etc are not proselytizing when the positive outcome is a benefit to all of society (less abortion, healthier women, lower recidivism, etc).

The unconstitutionality comes to play when the government prohibits the free exercise of religion, regardless as to whether or not the group is receiving federal funds. Federal money does not mean that the constitution can be usurped. If the government wants help in solving societal problems, they need to be less picky about who helps, and for what reason.
I'm in agreement with Jason here, I think, and for the same reasons.

Billy, I'm guessing you're okay with Mormon or Muslim groups also receiving federal funds, and to use those funds to proselytize in similar fashion?
And also, what did you mean by "aside from the unconstitutionality of the proposal"? I can't see how this is unconstitutional.. indeed it's a debate about how best to interpret the constitution. Whichever side wins will be "constitutional".
It is not a matter of "competing" in Atwell's sense, it is a matter of integrity. We would expect government officials to refuse gifts that might bring the appearance of conflict of interest-however harmless, and it is reasonable to hold ourselves to the same standard. That is not even accounting for the fact that the government could theoretically use it as an excuse to interfere in our autonomy.

I think taking money from the government is often like taking money from Vito Corleone; he might ask distasteful favors as a result and in any case we really wish the legbreaker to be employed somewhere else.

In the same way I don't think State and local governments should take money from the Fed. It saps their autonomy in similar ways.
Terrell,
Terrell you have to understand the history of IFI first. We were not "harnessed" when we received federal funding. We were harnessed by anti-Christian groups that brought about superfluous law suits and liberal judiciaries. The plaintiffs even said that allowing PFM to use utilities such as lighting or heat without paying out part of it (which would be charged to the gov. whether or not they used the facilities) was unconstitutional. How ridiculous! Perhaps Christian prisoners should pay a tax for their carbon footprint from exhaling--after all, it is Christian CO2 they're exhailing.

You place the burden on the churches rather than the government. Why should we be harnassed or restricted when we receive federal funding? What does the government care more about, recidivism or a liberal agenda against Christianity? We have a model that lowers recidivism more than any secular model, and yet we aren't given money to help unless we undercut the foundation of that model. It's absolute lunacy and it shows me that the government does not REALLY want to lower recidivism or offer women an option other than abortion. They want to keep Americans United, Planned Parenthood, and other groups like that off their back.
That's the key
The non-profit is indeed working to achieve a goal not even close to a profit of a cash flow. My intent was to raise the issue of an outfit like....mmmm.... say PFM and the recidivcism we see in a Inner Change population and contrast it with an outfit that has to work within the government guidelines and never address the root cause and their recidivism.

With no goverment funds we can pursue the root causes of poverty fatherlessness, crime and abortion without being harnessed.

The application to a competitive model is that the unstringed ministry will have success in helping people. Real lasting success that would hopefully draw referrals. The other outfit would have limited success and would continue to flounder.

That was the point of the competitive model. Helping men and women to find lives transformed by Christ is indeed the measure of success for the Christian non-profit.
Terrell,
How would you measure success with a ministry? Should a church pregnancy clinic follow a for-profit model in which they spend resource and energy and selling something or charging the women who come to them for help?

It sounds nice and capitalist of us to say that non-profits should compete like everybody else, but it rejects the understanding that these groups spend the money that would be taxed on the people they are assisting. Non-profits exist for the betterment of society and should be treated that way--and not like Michelin, Exxon, Lenovo, or any other company that exists primarily to make money (which isn't bad, but different).
I am in with you on this
No funds no strings, no strings no limits and the religious organizations can wage battle for success in the marketplace of those offerring relief. Then we get to see that which works flourish and that which doesn't flounder.
Religious organizations shouldn't accept federal funding in the first place.