Do you remember when they told us that if we voted for McCain it would mean at least 4 more years of Jesus Land in the White House? Well they were right.
At least $140 million of the $787 billion stimulus package was directed to "religiously inspired" groups, Politico reports, making the Obama initiative "the largest-scale embodiment of what was, not long ago, a conservative priority: directing tax dollars to 'faith-based initiatives.' " While the stimulus was initially attacked for being "anti-religious," a Politico investigation finds that a significant amount of money went to groups associated with religious organizations, including charities and the secular arms of churches. (Politico didn't include universities and hospitals with religious affiliations in the study). The money, which came from agencies like the Departments of Agriculture, Education, and Energy, went to programs for school lunches, energy-efficiency, and education, among other things. To make sure faith-based organizations got the money, federal agencies also launched an "aggressive" outreach campaign to educate groups about how to apply for the funds and to ensure that state officials gave it to them. While Obama has been alternately praised and criticized for taking "what President Bush did and [expanding] it," White House officials maintain that funding faith-based groups isn't part of a political strategy. "Part of our job is to ensure that there's a level playing field—we don't encourage anyone to favor faith-based groups over other organizations, but we do want to ensure that there's no discrimination against faith-based organizations," said administration official Joshua DuBois.
To head off the inevitable yet fair question: Yes, we were opposed to Bush's faith-based initiative program as well.
Charities, whether faith-based or not, would appear to operate more efficiently and be better structured to pursue their ends free of government entanglement.
Unfortunately, we were unable to link to the Politico story and while the SLATE piece does not suggest anything untoward, what is to keep the government from attaching conditions to their hand outs in the future?