Earmarks Infiltrate Faith-Based Funding in Record Amounts
DonByrd printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu May 17, 2007 at 12:03:12 PM EST
When Rev. Herbert Lusk's Greater Exodus Baptist Church in Philadelphia received a $1 million grant in government funds in 2002, just 2 years after the pastor offered a hearty endorsement of candidate Bush at the Republican National Convention, all the fears of faith-based funding opponents - for the integrity of the church - seemed to be coming true. With the executive branch funding the social service ministries of religious institutions, the spectre of corruption hangs overhead - both the real and the apparent, the large-scale quid pro quo and the smaller hesitation to criticize the President. Even at its most innocent, let's just call it the inherent human capacity to suck up to the hand that feeds it.

At least that program offers some measure of bureacratic filter, an application process that implies merit-based competition, the hint of oversight. But according to a NYTimes report over the weekend, religious organizations are increasingly finding their way around this system, receiving taxpayer money more directly. In short, multiply the troubling aspects of the President's faith-based initiative by the 535 members of Congress. That's right, I'm talking about congressional earmarks. Read on...

With the exception of military appropriations, which often fund quite specific programs, most congressional funding bills send money out to governmental agencies and departments to spend according to their particular charge. "Earmarks" are more specific direct funding provisions - bypassing competition and agency review - for projects outside of government (like, I don't know, maybe a bridge in Alaska). According to the Times report, earmarks for religious groups have increased precipitously, more than tripling in funds between the (already-record number) 107th (2001-3) and the 108th (2003-5) Congress.

The government is an easy target here - pandering to the faith community, misusing public funds, potentially violating the Constitution in the process.

But what of the faith-based groups on the receiving end? Is this what it's come to for religion? Are religious institutions willing to become simply another Washington lobby? Compromise their voice? Earmarks don't get their own individual vote (if only). Your religious group's funds are attached to legislation funding any number of things, as  James Winkler points out below, quoted in the Times piece.

"Earmarks are bad public policy," said Maureen Shea, director of the Episcopal Office of Government Relations in Washington. "If earmarks are not in the public interest, I would wonder why the faith community would be involved in them. It would hurt our credibility."

James E. Winkler, who has represented the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society since 2000, says he fears that the pursuit of earmarks could muffle religion's moral voice. "For example, we've opposed the war since day one," he said. "But what if an earmark benefiting us -- money for a Methodist seminary, perhaps -- is attached to the supplemental appropriation for the war? You can see how very serious moral conflicts could arise."

The Rev. Richard Cizik, vice president for governmental affairs at the National Association of Evangelicals, said that while religious organizations should be able to compete for federal money, such groups "shouldn't do that through earmarks." He explained, "As good stewards of the public trust, we have to be transparent and above board -- and earmarks are not transparent or above board."
Clyde Wilcox, a Georgetown University professor who has written extensively on religion and politics, said religious groups would naturally justify earmarks. But their moral authority in Washington -- "the extra prophetic power of the religious voice," as he put it -- largely arises from the fact that they are not seen as self-interested, he said. "The loss of that prophetic voice would be profound."

Kenneth Wald, a professor at the University of Florida who also studies religion in the political arena, foresees a more pragmatic danger for religious organizations that lobby for earmarks. "If they start to act like any other special interest, they'll start to be treated like any other special interest," he said. "I think it's nuts to take that risk."

The best course of action for government is to refrain from entangling with religion with public money. The best course of action for religion is to refrain from seeking or accepting public money. The separation of church and state is good for both.

showing the increase in funding here.

by DonByrd on Thu May 17, 2007 at 02:36:26 PM EST

whenever the church gets into bed with the world the church gets corrupted. this ALWAYS happens, it is the lesson of history. and the church has had 1800 years of experience of this , starting with the Emperor Constantine and his edict of toleration in AD 313, so they are totally devouid of excuse Of course the average religious person either does not know history or thinks that he will be different. this is why the main lesson of history is that no one lears the lessons of history. If Bush cared for the poor let him give his own money to church charities instead of giving money that came from the tax payer. of course Katrina showed Bush's real concern, so his faith based programme is a complete sham

by strefanash on Thu May 17, 2007 at 09:54:33 PM EST

There are religious groups, especially among mainline denominations, who have had a long history of providing social services on the basis of "secular" terms. As a Lutheran pastor I can say that the ELCA and its predecessors the LCA and ALC have long provided equal services with a blind eye to the spiritual status of those being served and without attempts to overtly evangelize those served. A belief of serving the least of these or those in need being the dominant purpose of these programs. Compliance with Equal Opportunity standards was a given and continue to be observed broadly today. Has this been done perfectly, I doubt it, but then again we Lutherans kind of obsess about "all fall short of the glory of God." Along with Mennonite Central Committee Lutheran Disaster Relief is often among the first on the scene of national and international disasters and is known for being particularly excellent at assisting people through the paperwork of federal assistance and often has been recognized with the highest ratings for charitable giving. All this work and yet rarely mentioned with the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross because that isn't the goal.

by esbjorn on Fri May 18, 2007 at 07:44:14 AM EST
Catholic social services groups around the country traditionally provide service to all who seek their help, they don't apply religious tests, and they help non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

by khughes1963 on Fri May 18, 2007 at 08:39:41 AM EST
Thanks for chipping in I was hoping someone could speak for Catholic Social Services but did not want to do it myself. They, too, have had a consistent record of service in this country without regard to those being served.

by PadreBear on Fri May 18, 2007 at 10:12:52 AM EST

 ....esbjorn is Rev. William Esborn, the Lutheran minister who, four years ago, pushed me to write my book when I didn't think I was capable of writing a book. He is also the author of the foreword. I'm glad to see him finally jumping into the discussion here.

If anyone wants to read Rev. Esborn's thoughts on church/state separation and Christian nationalist history revisionism, here's a link to his foreword to Liars for Jesus:

by Chris Rodda on Fri May 18, 2007 at 12:32:57 PM EST

I am so glad that, finally, I'm not the only one out there objecting to Herb Lusk's Exodus Baptist Chruch/Philadelphia whoreing itself to Bush to get not only $2million in '02 but more in the meantime. I have included him directly in some of my posts over at christianalliance.com   At least I now feel a little less like John the Baptist in the wilderness! These people undermind the cost factor for hiring fairness & much less fund their sectarianism with public funds, & let's not get into the religious education that Lusk got in the defensive backfield of the Phila. Eagles: get the picture? Self-proclaimed, etc., but Reggie White was involved in getting this scam off the ground when they met in Camden over across the Delaware River until they became a megachurch with all fanfare & self-annointing of God's blessing. What hokum!

Yes, I will vouch for the ECLA doing wonderful work in immigrant settlement & MHMR through its Ken-Crest organization. Also, Catholic Social Services once it had to take public money or close became non-sectarian in its use of same, even where abortion was concerned. My favorite example is Suburban General Hospital was picketed every Saturday morning for years by anti-abortion Catholic factions claiming that abortions were performed there. I could not verify that so I wonder about their verification! But when Mercy Healthcare bought out the osteopathic institution & it became Mercy Suburban, wow, just like that all the picketers disappeared & as far as I can see, and as far as my vascular surgeon [Lutheran] can attest from the inside, no sectarianism is being practiced, except, perhaps, in the hardline nun who is CEO dispensing the funds to various depts. & supplies sometimes scarce when needed. Otherwise, I will give them a bye. Isn't it interesting as to the double-standard, however? When they do it, it's suddently OK!

But as for faith-based doing better jobs with less money, hokummmm. I'd like someone to take on Extreme Church (AG) of Seneca, SC that is nothing more than an old tyme cult, period, contracting with the county for the court sending there its alcohol-counselling cases. Funny, that these poor souls wind up going to this quanset hut operation that masks itself as a church to cover its inhumane sins on the inside. And I am sure that this pattern is duplicated over & again, across the country, since these kinds do not believe in Separation of Church & State but will feed at the trough of public funds until someone cuts them off for proselytizing for their cult-operation with our funding. What a shame! A pox on their house! Not good policy, public or sectarian!
Arden C. Hander

by achbird65 on Mon May 21, 2007 at 07:31:17 AM EST

WWW Talk To Action

Cognitive Dissonance & Dominionism Denial
There is new research on why people are averse to hearing or learning about the views of ideological opponents. Based on evaluation of five......
By Frederick Clarkson (330 comments)
Will the Air Force Do Anything To Rein In Its Dynamic Duo of Gay-Bashing, Misogynistic Bloggers?
"I always get nervous when I see female pastors/chaplains. Here is why everyone should as well: "First, women are not called to be pastors,......
By Chris Rodda (180 comments)
The Legacy of Big Oil
The media is ablaze with the upcoming publication of David Grann's book, Killers of the Flower Moon. The shocking non fiction account of the......
By wilkyjr (99 comments)
Gimme That Old Time Dominionism Denial
Over the years, I have written a great deal here and in other venues about the explicitly theocratic movement called dominionism -- which has......
By Frederick Clarkson (93 comments)
History Advisor to Members of Congress Completely Twists Jefferson's Words to Support Muslim Ban
Pseudo-historian David Barton, best known for his misquoting of our country's founders to promote the notion that America was founded as a Christian nation,......
By Chris Rodda (106 comments)
"Christian Fighter Pilot" Calls First Lesbian Air Force Academy Commandant a Liar
In a new post on his "Christian Fighter Pilot" blog titled "BGen Kristin Goodwin and the USAFA Honor Code," Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan......
By Chris Rodda (127 comments)
Catholic Right Leader Unapologetic about Call for 'Death to Liberal Professors' -- UPDATED
Today, Donald Trump appointed C-FAM Executive Vice President Lisa Correnti to the US Delegation To UN Commission On Status Of Women. (C-FAM is a......
By Frederick Clarkson (115 comments)
Controlling Information
     Yesterday I listened to Russ Limbaugh.  Rush advised listeners it would be best that they not listen to CNN,MSNBC, ABC, CBS and......
By wilkyjr (79 comments)
Is Bannon Fifth-Columning the Pope?
In December 2016 I wrote about how White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who likes to flash his Catholic credentials when it comes to......
By Frank Cocozzelli (228 comments)
Ross Douthat's Hackery on the Seemingly Incongruous Alliance of Bannon & Burke
Conservative Catholic writer Ross Douthat has dissembled again. This time, in a February 15, 2017 New York Times op-ed titled The Trump Era's Catholic......
By Frank Cocozzelli (55 comments)
`So-Called Patriots' Attack The Rule Of Law
Every so often, right-wing commentator Pat Buchanan lurches out of the far-right fever swamp where he has resided for the past 50 years to......
By Rob Boston (155 comments)
Bad Faith from Focus on the Family
Here is one from the archives, Feb 12, 2011, that serves as a reminder of how deeply disingenuous people can be. Appeals to seek......
By Frederick Clarkson (173 comments)
The Legacy of George Wallace
"One need not accept any of those views to agree that they had appealed to real concerns of real people, not to mindless, unreasoning......
By wilkyjr (53 comments)
Betsy DeVos's Mudsill View of Public Education
My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman's work in explaining Betsy DeVos's long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If......
By Frank Cocozzelli (56 comments)
Prince and DeVos Families at Intersection of Radical Free Market Privatizers and Religious Right
This post from 2011 surfaces important information about President-Elect Trump's nominee for Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos. -- FC Erik Prince, Brother of Betsy......
By Rachel Tabachnick (214 comments)

Respect for Others? or Political Correctness?
The term "political correctness" as used by Conservatives and Republicans has often puzzled me: what exactly do they mean by it? After reading Chip Berlin's piece here-- http://www.talk2action.org/story/2016/7/21/04356/9417 I thought about what he explained......
MTOLincoln (241 comments)
What I'm feeling now is fear.  I swear that it seems my nightmares are coming true with this new "president".  I'm also frustrated because so many people are not connecting all the dots! I've......
ArchaeoBob (88 comments)
"America - love it or LEAVE!"
I've been hearing that and similar sentiments fairly frequently in the last few days - far FAR more often than ever before.  Hearing about "consequences for burning the flag (actions) from Trump is chilling!......
ArchaeoBob (172 comments)
"Faked!" Meme
Keep your eyes and ears open for a possible move to try to discredit the people openly opposing Trump and the bigots, especially people who have experienced terrorism from the "Right"  (Christian Terrorism is......
ArchaeoBob (143 comments)
More aggressive proselytizing
My wife told me today of an experience she had this last week, where she was proselytized by a McDonald's employee while in the store. ......
ArchaeoBob (141 comments)
See if you recognize names on this list
This comes from the local newspaper, which was conservative before and took a hard right turn after it was sold. Hint: Sarah Palin's name is on it!  (It's also connected to Trump.) ......
ArchaeoBob (151 comments)
Unions: A Labor Day Discussion
This is a revision of an article which I posted on my personal board and also on Dailykos. I had an interesting discussion on a discussion board concerning Unions. I tried to piece it......
Xulon (145 comments)
Extremely obnoxious protesters at WitchsFest NYC: connected to NAR?
In July of this year, some extremely loud, obnoxious Christian-identified protesters showed up at WitchsFest, an annual Pagan street fair here in NYC.  Here's an account of the protest by Pagan writer Heather Greene......
Diane Vera (125 comments)
Capitalism and the Attack on the Imago Dei
I joined this site today, having been linked here by Crooksandliars' Blog Roundup. I thought I'd put up something I put up previously on my Wordpress blog and also at the DailyKos. As will......
Xulon (186 comments)
History of attitudes towards poverty and the churches.
Jesus is said to have stated that "The Poor will always be with you" and some Christians have used that to refuse to try to help the poor, because "they will always be with......
ArchaeoBob (144 comments)
Alternate economy medical treatment
Dogemperor wrote several times about the alternate economy structure that dominionists have built.  Well, it's actually made the news.  Pretty good article, although it doesn't get into how bad people could be (have been)......
ArchaeoBob (83 comments)
Evidence violence is more common than believed
Think I've been making things up about experiencing Christian Terrorism or exaggerating, or that it was an isolated incident?  I suggest you read this article (linked below in body), which is about our great......
ArchaeoBob (189 comments)
Central Florida Sheriff Preached Sermon in Uniform
If anyone has been following the craziness in Polk County Florida, they know that some really strange and troubling things have happened here.  We've had multiple separation of church and state lawsuits going at......
ArchaeoBob (77 comments)
Demon Mammon?
An anthropologist from outer space might be forgiven for concluding that the god of this world is Mammon. (Or, rather, The Market, as depicted by John McMurtry in his book The Cancer Stage of......
daerie (107 comments)
Anti-Sharia Fever in Texas: This is How It Starts
The mayor of a mid-size Texan city has emerged in recent months as the newest face of Islamophobia. Aligning herself with extremists hostile to Islam, Mayor Beth Van Duyne of Irving, Texas has helped......
JSanford (105 comments)

More Diaries...

All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. Comments, posts, stories, and all other content are owned by the authors. Everything else 2005 Talk to Action, LLC.