First Amendment Advocate, Vol. 5, No. 1, August 2004
The Newsletter of the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United
Interfaith Alliance Asks Presidential Candidates to
Close the Faith-Based Office
By Dr. Bruce Prescott
The Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United heartily commends Dr. Welton Gaddy and the Interfaith Alliance for initiating dialogue with both Presidential candidates about eliminating the faith-based office. We wholeheartedly concur and will ask Governor Henry to shut down the faith-based office in Oklahoma should the federal office be closed.
As we reported in our June 2001 issue there is evidence that the faith-based office in Oklahoma began with the intention of serving majoritarian faith groups while neglecting those of minority faiths. The Oklahoma office has also been plagued with bad advice on church-state separation and muddled thinking from the beginning.
The truth is, faith-based offices are little more than inefficient bureaucracies squandering resources that used to go directly to aid the poor (in Oklahoma funding came from Temporary Assistance to Needy Families [TANF] funds).
To his credit, Oklahoma’s faith-based liaison has recently made some efforts to speak with leaders from minority faith groups. These efforts, however, are pointless.
The faith-based office’s chief responsibility is to teach members of the faith community how to apply for grants to fund their ministries. There are already literally thousands of faith groups chasing mere handfuls of grants. No new money has been allocated for these initiatives. All the faith-based office is trying to do is increase the number of competitors for a shrinking pool of resources.
The futility of applying for faith-based grants will not surprise those who comprehend the true purpose of the program. It is accomplishing three objectives of the Radical Right, which are 1) to drive a bulldozer through the wall separating church and state, 2) for the government to ignore the systemic causes of poverty, and 3) to dump the poor and needy at the doorstep of the church.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
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