Jennifer Loven of the Chicago AP bureau reports today that Barack Obama is announcing plans to expand the amount of federal social service funding that will be going to religious organizations that provide services to their local communities.
CHICAGO (AP) – Reaching out to evangelical voters, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is announcing plans that would expand President Bush’s program steering federal social service dollars to religious groups and – in a move sure to cause controversy – support their ability to hire and fire based on faith.
Obama was unveiling his approach to getting religious charities more involved in government anti-poverty programs during a tour and remarks Tuesday at Eastside Community Ministry in Zanesville, Ohio. The arm of Central Presbyterian Church operates a food bank, provides clothes, has a youth ministry and provides other services in its impoverished community.
“The challenges we face today, from putting people back to work to improving our schools, from saving our planet to combating HIV/AIDS to ending genocide, are simply too big for government to solve alone,” Obama was to say, according to a prepared text of his remarks obtained by The Associated Press. “We need all hands on deck.”
Read the full article at http://apnews.myway.com/article/20080701/D91L1BDO1.html
Michael Tanner, director of health and welfare studies at the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., described the faith-based initiative program in the July / August 2001 issue of Liberty Magazine, and had this to say:
True charity is ennobling of everyone involved, both those giving and those who receive. A government grant is ennobling of no one. Alexis de Tocqueville recognized this more than 150 years ago when he called for the abolition of public relief, citing the fact that private charity established a “moral tie” between giver and receiver. But that tie is destroyed when the money comes from an impersonal government grant. The donors (taxpayers) resent their involuntary contribution, while the recipients feel no real gratitude for what they receive.
Private charities may find even fewer people contributing voluntarily. If people come to believe that government will provide the funding, they may decide that there is less need for their own contributions. This will result in a loss not only of money, but of the human quality of charity. As Robert Thompson, of the University of Pennsylvania, noted a century ago, using government money for charitable purposes is a “rough contrivance to lift from the social conscience a burden that should not be either lifted or lightened in any way.”
The result will be a substitution of coercive government tax financing in the place of compassion-based voluntary giving. That would mean an end to charity as we know it.
Read Michael Tanner’s full article at http://libertymagazine.org/article/articleview/266/1/28/