this short essay, I will quickly get to the heart of the matter
concerning faith-based initiatives and why the secular community
should reassess their opposition that obstructs the attainment
of the common good in society.
rub with faith-based initiatives occurs when we view it from the
top down (how) rather than from the bottom up (why) perspective.
When viewing this from the top, funding for faith-based
initiatives (FBI) invite constitutional scrutiny and separation
of church and state concept concerns. I'd like to think that
the motives for opposition to FBI come primarily from those
patriotic defenders of our constitution, but I know better.
an example, who amongst FBI's detractors are protesting
unconstitutional government money flowing into disaster areas
where people have sudden need?
Lets face it; the issue isn't about helping people
but who will be trusted to receive funding and distribute
services. Prior to the installment of FBI's nobody protested
people of faith's digging a little deeper into THEIR wallets
to fill a need that most of those in opposition to FBI's today
get so worked up about. Plain and simple this is politics
complicated by the age-old secular vs. faith antagonism.
is concerned for those in need?
lucid bottom-up view (why) would reveal that people of faith
have historically been attentive/concerned for individuals and
meeting their basic needs. I would remind my largely secular
audience that people of faith largely view this from the
bottom-up perspective that tends to be more of a humanitarian
view. What everyone should be focusing upon is to find the best,
cost effective means towards meeting these needs!
my return to the US, I stopped into a Maryland "One-Stop"
(unemployment) center to gather information because my last two
employers financially closed shop. I thought I was entitled to
unemployment because I forsook the claim prior to my departure
to Latvia. I soon discovered that my being away for longer than
18 months makes me ineligible to receive unemployment benefits.
Here I had paid into the system all of those years and now that
I needed the benefits the rules disallow me. So be it.
reason I tell you the story is because a "nosy" man from a
Christian organization had ease dropped upon the conversation
and instinctively asked me during those 20 seconds after I had
received the unexpected news if I were homeless and if I had a
place to stay? At first thought, I started to get annoyed that
he butted into my business but quickly sensed that this was just
another affirmation and reminder that this is part of the
genuine modus operandi that people of faith consistently
of faith are largely a bunch or do-gooders that many secular
minded folks haven't really gotten to know as well as I had
during my 23 years as a Christian. Too many folks get
"spooked" because they don't understand them and proceed
to question their every deed, often seeking to paint them in
unflattering terms given the opportunity.
Look, I'm on record for having questioned the validity
of their belief system; but questioning their motives as greedy
or self-centered opportunists largely misses the mark.
had first hand rescue mission experience, I can tell you the
"biggest" concern I have is for the "preacher's"
penchant to force results in what is deemed to be fertile soil.
Some ministers' need of instant affirmation might drive them
to push too hard, but this differs from twisting of arms or an
implied imaginary boot out into the cold for failure to convert.
I don't see this happening enough to take the time to address
wished that secular folks were more concerned with meeting the
needs of food, clothing and shelter rather than if recipients
just might happen to hear what I consider to be a mythological
story of Jesus dying upon a cross and etc. We major upon minors
when we harp upon proselytization concerns. Consistent
with other societal commercial practices, it is understood that
you must first have to accept to endure the commercial before
you are served the free item. Besides, skeptical anti-dotes are
readily available should a partaker want a second opinion.
factions should quit tossing fictitious obstacles into the
achievement of the common good. If you are so concerned, build
your own secular rescue mission and have "thine" own
way... you could omit the Christian song when you run the show!
of the issue
evidence wouldn't support that the secular community places a
premium upon helping those who are down and out. But, whenever a
faith-based group that historically has labored to fill those
needs gets funding, certain non-religious folks suddenly get
interested with people getting their needs met in a faith-based
setting. Forgive me for being so blunt here, but this is nothing
more than secular greed and envy on display.
one skeptic to another: people of faith by and large are much
better equipped to perform these functions than other entities
(i.e. governmental or private enterprise). Whereas you would
probably have to advertise and selectively hire and then pay
people to meet these needs through the private sector; churches
get enthusiastic volunteers who want to help their fellow man
often without financial compensation.
of faith have the facilities, motive and desire to meet these
needs and it makes economic sense when you compare and contrast
cost effectiveness. This issue when reduced to its bare essence
leaves those people outside of faith who oppose faith-based
initiatives reaching for philosophical or political posturing.
I'll address a few of the weaker points they raise.
any and all religious symbolism
is just absurd, religious facilities can be used for
multi-purpose functions and to do so is more feasible than the
financial expense of erecting non-religious buildings to appease
people who are "spooked" by religious symbolism. Get over
it! Common sense should prevail, but to make someone jump
through unnecessary hoops because someone has an aversion to
religious symbolism is petty.
/ Employment Qualifications
a faith-based organization be mandated to hire the most
qualified individual even if they scoff and think that their
Bible is nothing more than literature?
about a Catholic church that is looking to hire a secretary?
Should they be required to hire an unmarried woman who they know
had an abortion within the last year and that is currently
living with a man that she openly admits she won't marry?
are questions pertaining to the following portion of the First
shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
no lawyer but I raised these two questions from the previous
paragraphs to show that the very same people who cry about the
Constitutionality of faith-based initiatives are hypocrites for
suggesting that faith-based groups be mandated into adopting
unconstitutional requirements and thus prohibiting people of
faith the free exercise of their beliefs!
groups have certain principles that I as a secular humanist
would frequently disagree with. For example, I don't like that
Catholics discriminate in hiring by denying openly gay people
employment. But, this is their right to do so under the American
Constitution. I'd remind everyone that progressive people of
faith like certain Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists and
others are less likely to deny employment due to sexual
preference and thus might be more likely to actually hire gay
people compared to other venues in society.
is responsible for finding solutions to issues within society.
Faith based initiatives can and should continue to be one of the
feasible solutions geared towards meeting the needs of a portion
of men, women and children within our society. As we know, these
social programs cost money and good government demands that wise
decisions be made with our tax dollar. Faith based initiatives
aren't that difficult of a decision because they make good
economic and practical sense. I'm glad that churches are
socially engaged because secular society and private enterprises
are not well equipped to meet these challenges. If churches were
to absent themselves from this sphere, tell me who would fill
the void that they left behind?
FBI's face strong opposition within the secular community due
to valid concerns over possible church-state entanglements.
What, should we ignore incessant societal needs simply because
of our uneasiness and concerns of FBI funding being administered
by people we frequently philosophically and intellectually
disagree with? What hangs in the balance are the needs of
economically needy people being unmet. While this might not be
as an important of a matter to those with a fat bank account; it
is an extremely urgent matter for parties in dire need upon the
in a CVS Pharmacy checkout line, I watched a man of Oriental
descent handing out something to others before me in line. I had
heard the faint God bless you's that he spoke to others and I
had contemplated what I would say when he tried to hand me what
my experience told me was going to be a religious minded gospel
though we allow perception or anticipation to interpret activity
rather than actually grasping the full scope of what is actually
transpiring. Being an ex-minister, I could dissect every one of
those Chick size gospel tracts it appeared he was passing out
and tell someone the fallacy of that message. Funny thing
happened though when he got to me, he didn't hand me what I
had anticipated. Instead, he quickly reached for one of those $1
dollar off coupons he had been saving for the paper towels that
he had observed in my check-out basket!
I had expected to be patronized with the gospel only to have
instead been blind sided by an unexpected goodwill gesture that
I would have missed if I had followed the perception rather than
experience has been that people of faith frequently stick their
noses into other people's business, which at times can be
annoying and cause us to want to distance ourselves from them.
But in my opinion, we would be foolish to try to hire someone
else to clothe, shelter and feed people when the "best man"
for the job all along has been he who was doing the same before
federal money started being offered.
us not be common good obstructionists upon the contrary side of
people in need because we question the religious creeds.
Ex-Minister sees through these secular erected smokescreens and
challenges people of reason to actually BE people of reason,
mindful of humanitarian concerns!