Senator Obama, if a religious institution proselytizes with one hand, and receives federal money with the other hand, how can you seriously posit that institution is not “using taxpayer funds to proselytize” ?
Money is money, and taxpayer funds are funds that religious institutions would not have otherwise. Whether they rob Peter to pay Paul and use funds they would not otherwise have to do proselytizing they would not have had the money to do otherwise, does that matter? You’re still giving money to people from the taxpayers.
On the same plane, we have Senator Obama assuring us that no federal money will be used to fund hiring-and-firing discrimination. In other words, programs that have taxpayer funding may not discriminate. But, how is this to be remotely true, if it is a bucketing issue?
In other words, say I am a religious organization and have $4000 (we’ll keep the amounts here small). Currently, I use all $4000 to feed the needy. And within that program, I refuse to hire homosexuals.
Now the government gives me $4000 with the stipulation that I may not discriminate in that program.
So I start another program and take the original $4000 (that I no longer have to use to fund program A) to start program B, which continues to discriminate on sexual orientation and religion. PLUS I add another $1000 to Program B and cut Program A to using only $3000 of the federal funding.
This is not the federal government using taxpayer money to discriminate? How is that more than a fig leaf?
While the question is addressed to Obama, given the widespread support for faith-based programs, it’s a fair question. It also gives me an excuse to relate two faith-based related anecdotes. Back when I worked at a non-profit, we were part of a consortium competing for USAID funding. Given the political climate at the time, having religion-associated* organizations was seen as a good way to increase the likelihood of funding (sadly, it didn’t work). Some of the religion-associated organizations had significant track records, but a couple of the groups didn’t. One group (and the name escapes me or has been repressed) figured out a way to use spare military transport to ship medical supplies (one of the few benefits of having wordwide imperial garrisons–the U.S. military delivers almost everywhere). Nothing wrong with this–beating swords into plowshares and all of that.
Except that was only part of what they did. The other part of their activities was absolutely demonic–a full-throttled assault on the First Amendment to the point where I think James Dobson might blush. Needless to say, I was thrilled that these fuckers might get inflated overheads that would be used to turn the U.S. into a state based on Christian belief–and that’s not hyperbole on my part.
The second anecdote is even worse. A colleague went to a meeting designed to aid new applicants navigate the USAID application process. As far as he could tell, he was the only representative from an organization that wasn’t religious out of about 200 groups. At a lunch break, he wound up talking to a small group of people, one of whom–his group was supposed to be involved in food delivery–exclaimed that he was so excited because now his group could stop all of the abortions in Africa (which he also referred to as “saving the babies”). Several others thought that was wonderful. Because what many African countries, where pregnancy can be a death sentence, really need are more unwanted pregnancies.
I simply do not trust many of the religion-associated organizations to do the right thing–with good reason.
*Given the pessimism that many ‘faiths’ have about the human condition (e.g., original sin), faith isn’t the word I would use. Snark aside, ‘faith-based’ is the way Liars for Jesus make their sectarian dogma sound as if it is widely accepted.