Archive for “charitable choice

Jamming “Faith” into Government

Posted in agnoticism, Atheist, Bible, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, politics, random, religion, Social with tags , , , , , on September 18, 2011 by chouck017894

Back in 1979 the US citizens paid little attention to the clamoring of the Religious Right, a movement which in effect was something like a voodoo resurrection of the religio-social movement that had once attempted to force Prohibition upon all U.S. citizens.  Like that earlier movement, the rallying bluster was the old saw that the nation’s morals were leading us to hell.  What the nation needed in 1979, said one egocentric chubby preacher from Lynchburg, Virginia, was for the nation to take up his “conservative” values.  His equally chubby ego drove him to seek national attention, and he dedicated himself to imposing upon the nation his self-serving “conservative” moral code.  He was just one among several who sought to use religious posturing as a political stepping stone.

The right-wing Republicans have a long history of opposing almost any ethical forms of regulations and controls as had been wisely set in place in an attempt to keep a level playing field for all citizens and businesses.  Even Republican President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) found it necessary to break up monopoly trusts to protect true democratic principles.  But slowly and surely the heavily financed GOP crowd kept chipping away at the principled regard for the little man in favor of the conniving schemers and greedy corporations.  The resulting economic collapse of 2008-2009 and the $700 billion taxpayer-funded bailout is directly traceable to the GOP’s devotion to end the controls and regulations that once protected homeowners, small businesses, taxpayers and the national budget.

In this continuing GOP indulgence in economic sins, the United States can truly be termed a “Christian nation,” for the whole concept of that faith is that someone else will pay or has paid the end-price for you.  Was it simply bald coincidence that as right-wing religionists squirmed their way into national political influence in the late ’70s and early ’80s that the democratic principles upon which the US rose to greatness began to noticeably slide downhill?  As noted in Time Frames and Taboo Data (p 408), “Reagan’s first official act after assuming office as President of the United States in 1981 was to terminate oil price controls, asserting that it would boost America’s oil exploration and production.”  That certainly did not prove to work as advertised.  Also noted on the same page, “But in the years of Reagan’s reign the “Conservatives” never managed to find the waste, fraud and abuse that they had claimed had been the hallmarks of liberal government.  Subtle shifts (in government) did occur, however, and with Ronald Reagan’s election the war on poverty which had been led by the Democrats was quickly and quietly shifted into a war on the poor.  That war is still being conducted by the GOP.

In 1992 the extreme right-wing religionists announced publicly, “We want…as soon as possible to see a majority of the Republican Party in the hands of pro-family Christians by 1996.”  By 1995 the US Congress was manipulated into stripping away the rights of victims who sought to recover their losses from dishonest and abusive big businesses!  That was the caliber of Christian offering by a religiously inspired Congress.  And by 1996 the Christian Right had indeed managed to craftily seize control of the GOP at the Republican Convention.  Through the next few years Christian evangelical fanatics wormed their way into Congress, the Judiciary, and the Executive Branches—all the while corruption and unethical behavior flourished, reaching its apex in 2000 with the highly questionable manner in which born again George W. Bush managed to be installed as president.

During the drafting of the Welfare Act earlier in 1996, the then-senator from Missouri, John David Ashcroft (R-MO), advanced the deceptive idea of “charitable choice.”  The reference label was something of a misnomer, to say the least, for the covert intention of the proposed program was to provide a wedge that would permit government funds to be siphoned away to Christian religious groups and ministries.

Within weeks after G. W. Bush swore upon two Bibles at his inauguration in 2001 that he would uphold and protect the Constitution, he was leading the charge in support of his colleague’s anti-democratic “charitable choice” policy.  And John Ashcroft was rewarded by being installed as Attorney General in GWB’s administration.  Very quickly they were seeking ways to distribute federal tax money to ministries, pretending that it was to provide social services through religious institutions, services which were already being provided for through secular grantees and government agencies.  The “charitable choice” policy was a cunning move to alter existing laws in such a manner that it could utilize the federal government to directly support Christian conversions—a move that was/is in direct opposition to religious freedom for all that is granted by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Using tax dollars to fund any faith system or ministries implies that it represents government’s social welfare, and that is in itself unconstitutional.  Add to the brew that “charitable choice” as the Bush insiders attempted, intentionally tries to evade the protective safeguards that were established to protect citizens against religious coercion and abuses.  Incorporating religious organizations to distribute publicly funded aid was already being made occasionally, and this was done by contracting separate entities of religious institutions to handle that distribution.  This allowance retained safeguards that protected the civil rights of the disadvantaged, and insured the integrity of the representing groups, which “charitable choice” sought to emasculate.

Although “charitable choice” did actually become part of the welfare law in 1996, there were constitutional concerns that caused democracy’s wiser representatives to hesitate in implementing the policy.  Many in Congress rightfully saw it as a disguised way of forcing every taxpayer to subsidize the Christian faith system whether they believed in it or not—clearly a means concocted to sabotage the principle of separation of church and state.

But G. W. Bush liked to think of himself as a god-chosen “leader,” and seemed hellbent on applying “charitable choice” to practically every aspect of government funding.  “Blessed are the poor,” Jesus said, so Bush and company decided to make as many poor as possible for Jesus.  The resultant unending “charity” hoopla made the wise sentinels of democracy tremble, alarming civil rights and civil liberty groups, the educational and social service communities, and even the more rationally balanced religious communities.

Providing social services through civic-minded religious groups to the disadvantaged is a noble endeavor if it remains free from proselytizing. Only then can it be said to be a heart or a spiritual offering, and the creative source certainly recognizes the difference.  But the faith-based “charitable choice” initiative as repeatedly attempted by the so-called “conservatives” and the piety pretenders is a policy that is concerned with neither democratic principles nor religious liberty: It is concerned solely on stealing material advantages for their special interests.

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“Charitable Choice”

Posted in Atheism, Atheist, belief, Christianity, culture, faith, freethought, Government, history, politics, random, religion, secularism with tags , , , , , , , , on September 21, 2009 by chouck017894

During the drafting of the Welfare Reform Act in 1996, the then-senator from Missouri, John David Ashcroft (R-MO) advanced the innocent-sounding idea of “charitable choice.”  The reference label was something of a misnomer, for the covert intention of the program was to provide a wedge that would permit the government to fund religious groups and ministries.

Within weeks after George W. Bush swore upon two Bibles at his inauguration in 2001 to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution, he was leading the charge in support of the “Charitable Choice” policy.  And GWB installed John Ashcroft as his Attorney General.  Bush, a self-proclaimed “Born Again Christian,” quickly sought to distribute federal tax money to ministries, ostensibly to provide social services that happened to already be provided for through secular grantees and government agencies.  Bush pledged eight billion dollars in expanding “Charitable Choice” so churches and ministries received federal funds for “social services” which allowed them to proselytize!    The “charitable choice” policy really sought to alter the existing laws in a manner that could utilize the power of the federal government to support Christian conversions—a move that is in direct opposition to the religious freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Using tax dollars meant for public benefit works to fund churches and ministries to represent government social welfare is, in itself,  unconstitutional.  Add to this that Ashcroft’s so-called “Charitable Choice,” as attempted, intentionally avoided any protective safeguards that would prevent religious coercion and abuses.  Incorporating religion into publicly funded programs had always been avoided by the government, sometimes contracting separate entities of religious institutions and in that way established safeguards that protected the rights of the disadvantaged, the interests of all tax payers, and in this way insured the integrity of the representing groups.

Although “charitable choice” did become part of the welfare law of 1996, the constitutional concerns caused democracy’s representatives to hesitate in implementing the policy.  Many rightfully saw it as a disguised way of forcing taxpayers to subsidize religion whether they believed in its narrow spiritual worth or not–clearly a means of sabotaging the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.  It was telling that this knucklehead that pushed for “charitable choice” is the same guy who spent eight thousand dollars on blue curtains to hide the breasts of the statue Spirit of Justice and the male counterpart Majesty of Law

 But Bush at that time liked to think of himself as a god-chosen leader, and seemed hell-bent-for-leather on applying “charitable choice” to practically every aspect of government  funding.  The resultant unending “faith-based” hoopla made democracy tremble, alarmed civil liberties groups, and the educational and social service communities, and even the more rationally balanced religious communities.

Providing legitimate social service can be a noble endeavor for spiritually minded groups, but the “faith-based” initiative as attempted in the “charitable choice” ploy was a policy that was concerned with neither democratic nor genuine religious liberty.  But the radical religious right is still seeking to embezzle tax monies for their tyrannical beliefs.  American citizens must keep a watchful eye on these devilish anti-democratic insurgents.

Ashcroft took a teaching position at Pat Robertson’s Regent University after his stint as Attorney General.