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Finally – some black pastors worry about being on the faith-based take

There are leaders in the black religious community finally questioning the motives of Bush and his faith-based agenda. What took so long? They are realizing that it could blow up in their faces.

Even as these folks are wary, remember, Chimpy and his constitutional wrecking crew want to give religious organizations the right to discriminate when hiring (see my earlier post, House OKs Bill on Faith-Based Job Discrimination). Some of these religious leaders would, in fact, also be on board with this law because the issues that gives them pause about the faith-based initiative – are that they will have to follow guidelines counter to their faith, and that they would have to refrain from proselytizing. (Agape Press):

A black conservative social policy activist says she thinks George W. Bush’s faith-based initiative is taking the wrong approach in trying to empower churches and faith-based groups to care for the needy.

Last week, President George W. Bush renewed his commitment to his faith-based initiative, which would allow churches and other religious groups to receive federal taxpayer funds to assist the poor and provide numerous social services. But Star Parker, founder of the Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education (CURE), feels the president’s plan is off base.

She questions why so many conservatives who would normally oppose the big government approach of throwing U.S. citizens’ hard-earned tax dollars at poverty and related social problems are failing to speak out against a plan to get churches involved in much the same approach.

“Most people on the right, in particular the Christian Church community, are saying nothing,” Parker complains. “In fact, even worse than saying nothing, many of them are actually lining up to get a government grant. This is not the [government’s] responsibility, to give out grants of other people’s money and redistribute wealth to try to take care of the needs of the poor.”

The CURE spokeswoman says Christians should be wary of taking government money. The moment churches start accepting federal funding, she contends, the government immediately starts putting restrictions on churches, such as prohibiting them sharing their faith with those who receive benefits through their faith-based programs. “One of the things that government will do,” the activist warns, “is regulate [churches] and make sure that they don’t do the first step [to help people] out of poverty, which is preach the gospel.”

…Prominent urban church leader Bishop T.D. Jakes also strongly cautions Christians about being quick to take advantage of the faith-based initiative. In an Associated Press interview last year, he remarked that tax-funded religious charities should serve everyone, but they need to retain their right to hire only fellow believers.

Jakes, the pastor of The Potter’s House congregation in Dallas, says his church has provided input but refrained from taking funds from President Bush’s faith-based initiative. The well-known minister and author does feel it is possible to separate a church’s spiritual and secular missions; nevertheless, he advises churches that accept federal money to keep it carefully separated from other church finances in its own account.

Jakes says churches that do opt to take part in the faith-based initiative must take care to remain free and reserve their right to hire only people who share their faith and mission, or else run the risk that they may “cease to be the Church.

On another front, you’ll recall that the other frustration by pastors on the Right, the inability to endorse from the pulpit, is also being challenged with legislation submitted by U.S. Rep Walter Jones (R-NC)H.R. 235.

After they obliterate this line between church and state, the goal is to get a federal marriage amendment “through the back door” by electing a flood of wingnuts into Congress. I’m sure many of these pastors will be on board with that too.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding