OK's Faith-based liaison

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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:

 

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Brad promises government money won’t be used to proselytize, but insists that evangelical faith groups won’t have to sacrifice their religious mission.

 

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Brad promises more effective social services, but says he’s not concerned about professional standards.

 

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Brad promises not to establish a state church, but stipulates in contracts that services need only be acceptable to 75% of the religious population of Oklahoma.

 

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Brad promises equal access to government money, but excludes Interfaith Ministries.

 

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Brad promises strict accountability, but refuses to accept responsibility for his ignoring minority faiths.

 

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Brad promises contracts will be awarded according to pre-established criteria, but has failed to provide any.

 

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Brad promises Faith Based Initiatives will transform our “culture,” but expects there will be scams and rip-offs.

 

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.

 

 

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"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

Copyright © 2003 Americans United -- Oklahoma Chapter  P.O. Box 892747 Oklahoma City, OK 73189.   Phone and Fax:  405-632-0037   Send mail to jhuff@auok.org with questions about the Oklahoma Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State

 

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