Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Subtle Infringement of the Government into Religion

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.

1 comment:

  1. Coming from a non-profit viewpoint I have to say I actually agree with you on a lot of these points. The truth is, depending on the status of the non-profit (c3 or c6 etc) the 'rules' of engagement are already ridiculous when it comes to soliciting funding from local or national independent companies or individuals. To add government funding to this seems to be a non-profit nightmare, because as a NP, you are already 'serving at the pleasure of the board, the public, the people who fund you etc etc' to ad serving the government to a religious non profit seems dangerous. Unfortunatly the issue that most of these small organizations are facing is that they simply cannot go without the funding during the economic crisis around us. The large donors are being forced to reduce support and the small donors simply don't have the means to give. But the people in need keep coming, and they keep coming at a faster rate than ever. So what do you do? I agree praying about it is a important part of the equation, but what do you do to act on it?

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