With the formation of faith-based program initiatives under the George W. Bush administration, the roll of the government funding religious non-profits grew. Bush’s faith-based initiative program was under the control of Health and Human Services. Under the program, religious organizations are able to compete equally with other non-profits for federal funding. The government sees this as a way to help the needy through local charitable organizations that can serve their community better than government agencies. While I certainly agree with that assessment, I think religious groups should be very leery of taking money from the feds.
Religious non-profits that take money from the government are putting themselves into a situation where they may be relying on Uncle Sam for a financial lifeline instead of the generosity of their constituents or local funds to stay active. If the group comes upon hard times and has to run to the government for more assistance, they may be out of luck, and consequentially, out of business. Non-profits may have more long-term viability if they rely more on local fund-raising and creating a base than to have the Federal Government write them a check every year. If religious groups feel they are being called to serve their local community, then they should pray about it, and then act.
It is slippery slope for the government to be in the business of funding religious groups. Just like we have seen with the recent banking crisis, the government and paying public can be very nosy when it comes to knowing how their money is being spent. President Obama has already created a Chief Performance Officer who will be in charge of making sure that all agencies are operating at peak efficiency, I suppose. If that person starts to also oversee nonprofit group spending, that puts religious groups in a precarious position of having pseudo government oversight.
I’m not against religious groups helping those in need. I support them readily. I just think they should be careful about taking federal funding.