First Amendment Advocate, Vol. 2, No. 1, June 2001
The Newsletter of the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United
Bait & Switch Brad -- Oklahoma's Faith-based Liaison
By Dr. Bruce Prescott
Six months before President Bush opened a Faith Liaison office at the White House, Governor Keating created one at the State House in Oklahoma. President Bush announced what he was doing publicly. The Oklahoma office opened under a cloak of secrecy.
Most Oklahoman’s learned just weeks ago that for the past year the State of Oklahoma has been paying Brad Yarbrough a $60,000 salary to serve as a liaison for government funded religion in Oklahoma. Many still do not know it. Nor do many realize that Yarbrough’s office through the Department of Human Services (DHS) has already granted a $60,000 contract to Cornerstone Assistance Network in Oklahoma City and a $40,000 contract to Cornerstone Assistance Network of Tulsa. The Cornerstone Assistance Networks in Tulsa and OK City are Christian Social Service agencies that are now receiving taxpayer dollars to serve as “Intermediary Organizations” to enlist, train, assist and monitor religious organizations applying for government funding to provide social services.
The contracts stipulate that the Intermediary Organizations should produce materials “suitable for at least seventy-five percent of the religious population of Oklahoma” and that they “develop a database of organizations that effectively help individuals and families in need.”
After the contracts had been granted, it was discovered that Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries, a well known and widely respected 64 year old Interfaith Social Service agency, had not been included in bidding on the contract for “Intermediary Organization” in Tulsa. Metropolitan Ministries of Central Oklahoma had been similarly omitted from bidding on the OK City contract.
Issues surrounding the establishment of Oklahoma’s office of Faith Based Liaison and its contracts were addressed at a May 14, forum jointly sponsored by The Interfaith Alliance and Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries. Brad Yarbrough spoke at that conference and offered an elaborate bait & switch sales routine for government funding of religion:
To his credit, Brad did acknowledge that he expected no additional funds to be allocated for faith based social services. Faith groups will be competing for funding against each other and against existing social service agencies.
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
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