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Saturday, December 02, 2006

Is Bush's Faith-Based Program Headed to the Curb?

A lot has been made of the Supreme Court's review of global warming. I'm not giving the case much of a chance, but I'm also ready to be pleasantly surprised. They'd dismiss a suit against Dr. Frankenstein if the defense said that holding mad scientists responsible for what their monsters do amounts to government regulation of business. But you never know.

Another case has a better chance. It would also be a huge setback for the Bush administration and the religious right.

Washington Post:

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to step into a dispute over the Bush administration's promotion of federal financing for faith-based charities.

The program has been a staple of President Bush's political agenda since 2001, when he created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

The case under review grew out of a lawsuit filed by a group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation. The group claims the Bush administration violates a constitutional ban on state-supported religions by singling out particular faith-based organizations as worthy of federal funding.

The Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives has been a government handout to the religious right. It's basically a bribe for support. A more honest name for the scheme might be the Office of Christianity.

Esther Kaplan, BuzzFlash:

...After sifting through every grant announcement I could get my hands on from Bush's faith-based offices, I couldn't find a single grant issued to a religious charity that wasn't Christian -- no Jewish charities, no Muslim charities, nothing. And when I spoke with Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, he confirmed that no direct federal grants from his program had gone to a non-Christian religious group. This kind of religious favoritism is exactly what the Constitution's establishment clause was put in place to prevent.

Is there any chance SCOTUS would look at that fact and dismiss it? Even Scalia isn't all the way crazy. An office that only supports one religion is blatantly and painfully unconstitutional, let alone an office that supports religion at all.

Another group receiving faith-based grants is the Unification Church or the Moonies, who claim to be christian as well. It's always seemed both odd and appropriate to me that a big player on the religious right is cult leader Sun Myung Moon. I wonder how the values voters would react to the news that the government is funding a man who claims to be the messiah? So far, the reaction has been a yawn. Try to get a wiccan symbol for the tombstone of a soldier killed in Afghanistan and they go nuts, but give a few million to a guy who said, "Because of the failure of Christianity, Father's [i.e., Moon's] life course has been one of indemnity," and they're positively sanguine.

If the Supreme Court fails to end the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, the newly democratic congress may take a whack at it.

The Jewish Week:

With Democrats about to take control of the House — and aggressive lawmakers like Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) set to assume critical committee chairs — the House is expected to assume wide-ranging oversight responsibilities that critics say have been largely ignored since the arrival of a Republican administration in 2001.

“What the Republicans and various members of the Republican constituency really fear is that a Democratic Congress will use its investigative machinery to look into the dealings between Republican politicians and faith-based groups,” said Johns Hopkins University political scientist Benjamin Ginsberg.

Millions of taxpayer dollars have gone to religious groups through faith-based programs established by executive order, not legislation. Ginsberg said those grants include many instances of fraud and “money laundering. A few hours of digging will uncover a lot of dirt.”

There's a big surprise -- the system's likely corrupt as all hell.

Anyone who's read this blog for a while knows I don't like to make predictions, but it's really hard to see the OFBCI surviving as it is now. If SCOTUS doesn't kill it, the dems will. If it survives at all, it will be without the 'faith-based' focus.


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Anonymous said...

I'm a member of FFRF, and I'm very pleased that the organization has stuck with this case. By far the biggest hurdle thrown in FFRF's path has been the accountability of just where the money was going. The Shrub and his band of thugs steadfastly refused to divulge that info, and that is what kept the Foundation from going anywhere with their case. They couldn't prove that the bribes (oops...I mean bad) were going only to Christians. I guess they got that proof!!!

publicreader said...

Let's hope they did get the proof , anonymous. By the way, Griper, I just added you to my favorites on np and am going to put you on the blogroll at public politics.

Michael said...

Whoops, should have signed that comment with other than my blogger identity. There is no blog at that address is which is where I will add you to the blogroll in a few minutes