The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 26 - 1/29/2001
What Do You Think About Bush's 'Faith-Based' Initiative Plan?
Pres. George Bush says that he will push a 'faith-based' social program this coming week that he hopes will grant federal money (taxpayer dollars) to fund religious groups doing social work. Does this plan violate the separation of church and state? If those federal bucks become available should Pagan religious groups make a grab for them, too? Or is this proposed religious feeding frenzy for secular federal money really a subtle plot to further bolster the Christian Radical Right's power to proselytize to the masses and, as Americans United believes, further erode the church-state wall?
| Reponses: There are 87 responses posted to this question.
|| Reverse Sort
| There Is The Question Of Whether These Groups Are Doing Social Work... ||Jan 28th. at 10:01:55 pm UTC|
|John Bilecki (effort, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 44 - Email |
There is the question of whether these groups are doing social work OR using this as a platform for proselytizing. The diversified (and fragmented) nature of our groups, coupled with the fact that we are not a 'missionary' religion, place pagan groups and individuals at a severe disadvantage when applying for federal funds. By default, the religous right will obtain most of these funds.
This will go through whether we like it or not. A vigorous and visible presence by us presents the greatest threat to the religous right. Receiving federal funds would 'legitimize' our beliefs in spite of them.
It is highly unlikely that we will ever come to an integrated set of beliefs. Nor should we, as our diversity is what makes our beliefs attractive. There is, nowever, one point that we should consider:
THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RELIGOUS BELIEFS AND POLITICAL AGENDAS!
We need to unite politically, not religously! This could provide us with a unique opportunity to fight the RR on their own grounds. Establish a coalition of pagan social services, and use this group as a liason between pagan groups/individuals and the government. This group would apply for funding and distribute it to pagan groups providing social services. There is a much greater chance of obtaining the funds (and visibility) by using a single group as 'spokesperson'.
I should stop, as the reply is getting lengthy. Would anyone be willing to seriously discuss this on one of the chat boards?
| The President's Proposed Faith-based Social Initiative Would Be A Violation Of The... ||Jan 28th. at 10:31:46 pm UTC|
|Jeremy (San Antonio, Texas US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
The President's proposed faith-based social initiative would be a violation of the separation of church/state, but I don't believe that this is necessarily a bad thing. If this initiative would be all-inclusive giving ample opportunity for a myriad of faiths to become involved in the lives of others. Unfortunately, pagans as well as many other belief systems will be left out of the equation in favor of Christianity first and foremost. It's a shame we can't break through this wall, for it would benefit everyone.
| I Do Not Really Trust The Motives Of Anyone So Closely Associated... ||Jan 29th. at 1:16:08 am UTC|
|the ShadowDancer (Tucson, Arizona US) ||Age: 47 - Email |
I do not really trust the motives of anyone so closely associated with the Christian Right. However, since this situation is likely to come to pass, it would be nice if some of us Polytheists could get some advantage out of it.
Unfortunately that would call for a more solidified structure than is usual for most Neopagan groups. It would require accountability, boundries, a structure that could be put on paper to justify governmental RFPs (requests for proposals). Looking over last week's Question on boundries, most of the responses seemed to come from positions far too amorphous to receive Federal $$$$$$$$$$$$ for doing social work as a Faith-based program.
This is no longer the 70's, you know. You can't just apply and get Federal $$$$. You have to have programs in place, plans on how you propose to use the $$$$$$, qualified personnel. Face it, our Jewish/Moslem/Christian brothers and sisters have been doing these things for years at the organizational level.
We pagans are just barely forming out of the ether. It would be cool if we were at a place to be able to take on such an undertaking. Maybe in 5-10 years, I hope so!!!!!!!!!!!
| Although I Would Rather Optomisticaly Belive That This Program Could Be Benificial... ||Jan 29th. at 6:12:42 am UTC|
|KJ Burrier (fostoria, Ohio US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Although I would rather optomisticaly belive that this program could be benificial to many people, I know our government has or would eventually have a political agenda behind such a program. As a pagan I have no quarells for the perpetuation of anyones beliefs', but in the same respect I have a huge argument for the enforcement of some other group's beliefs over mine. Which would be done by the taking and spending of my money on such, in the form of tax dollars. As a libertarian I have no quarells for the great work of a community to come together and provide social assistance to those in need, but in the same respect it is no place of the government to decide if your religion is worthy enough to be granted to do so. Its for these reasons the issue of seperation between church and state was put into the constitution. The founding fathers went through the trials and tribulations of a state organised/funded religion and saw how no good could come from it. So I belive it is best to nip it in the bud and refuse and reject the notion of this no matter how well meaning it may seem to start as. I do like John's suggestion of a central pagan organisation (CPO) to accept and distribute funds for social or pagan interest. I also believe how ever any group or groups wishing to do so does not need the governments money to do this. This just encourages the law makers to take more taxes.
| Freedom Of Religion Or Freedom From Religion? This Is A Very Hard... ||Jan 29th. at 8:11:38 am UTC|
|Trish Telesco (western, New York US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
Freedom of religion or freedom FROM religion?
This is a very hard call. My basic feeling is that Bush does not intend to make these monies easy to come by except for groups whose policies follow his own (yes, that's a judgemental statement but we've already seen an example of how non-inclusive he is by the terrible benediction at the inauguration). So unless this program is open to ALL faiths, and does not have hidden requirements that would allow certain religions more access than others, then I don't want it. The line of church and state is already being stomped all over - and if we're not very careful it could be erased alltogether.
| Well, I Have To Admit It _sounds_ Good. Then Again, So Did... ||Jan 29th. at 10:04:13 am UTC|
|Alexandra R. Bush (Hackensack, New Jersey US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
Well, I have to admit it _sounds_ good.
Then again, so did communism, and look how all the attempts to put that into action did.
I think this plan would open the door to a great deal of exclusionism. Since Bush's admittedly born-again Christian goverment would be deciding which groups would get the funds, there's quite a chance that followers of religions not supported or liked by these bigots (namely, any other than their own) would suffer... and what about atheists, agnostics, and solitares?
H'm. Wasn't there something in the Constitution about a separation of church & state?
| Greetings Pagans, We Feel That It Is To Break Down The Walls... ||Jan 29th. at 10:16:56 am UTC|
|Nightstar (Joplin, Missouri US) ||Age: 50 - Email |
We feel that it is to break down the walls of separation of church and state....that is the main idea, of course. Dubya is a Christian for his God's sake! What do we expect? However, there are areas of need and some religious charities have done some good work, so its a mixed bag.
A simple solution would be one where groups of religious entities work together for common good of their community. However, in our "let someone else do it' mentality that idea is lost. We are so accustomed to hand a dollar over to the government in order to get back a nickle and that is mostly lost in "administrative costs". Man is a very complicated lot!
| I Think That President Bush Is On A Very Strong Hallucinogenic Drug... ||Jan 29th. at 10:32:55 am UTC|
|MoonRider (Chickasha, Oklahoma US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
I think that President Bush is on a very strong hallucinogenic drug to try and pull that out of his hat. This violates church and state to a great extent. For him to want to do this means that he alienates those who may not believe in God or if they do, subscribe to a specific religion. He feels that if faith-based social programs are promoted that all of societies ills will be cured, but it will take more than that to cure societies ills. This IS a move to bolster the Christian Radical Right.
| Of Course This Is A Violation Of Church And State. Of Course... ||Jan 29th. at 10:51:48 am UTC|
|Iko (Chicago, Illinois US) ||Age: 36 - Email |
Of course this is a violation of church and state. Of course there are going to be court battles over the very notion of your and my tax dollars going to support the likes of any number of fundy bible thumpers. But in the mean time, when in Rome do as the Romans do! (Even if this strange Rome is your own country.) By this I mean every eligible Pagan group should apply for money as soon as they possibly can. (Now it should be interesting what kind of 'requirements' come with getting the money, what will you have to do to be eligible - and if it is much easier say for born again Southern Baptists to get funding than it is for any Pagan group.) We have already heard from the Bush camp in pre-election quotes that "the Witches" would not be getting any funding... lets see if he really wants a court battle regarding the legitimacy of any of the religions that fall under the Pagan umbrella of religions. Personally, I was hoping that I might just be able to ignore politics for the next four years. However, I knew and know more now than ever that we must not let the current conservative Christian regime that is running the country force us back into our broom closets. So, I say apply for the money and then be as loudly vocal as you can be when your group is turned down. Fight them all the way to the Supreme Court. It is up to us, every single one of us, to show that we are as religiously legitimate as our born again Christian next door neighbors.
| This Is A Test Of Our Faith. My Initial Reaction Is To... ||Jan 29th. at 11:12:10 am UTC|
|Sphinxring (Snoqualmie, Washington US) ||Age: 48 - Email |
This is a test of our faith. My initial reaction is to want "someone" to make proposals for a social program run by pagans. From a political viewpoint, this would force the issue. However, there is likely to be all kinds of technical rules to winnow out anyone who is not sincere in their plans to institute a social program. Christian organizations can easily point at a history of social action, even if we might find the results repugnant. Can we say the same? I would hope so, but can't think of any. I really hope I'm wrong, but to don't think there are any. This points to the question "Why not?". The easy answer is that we are so ingrained with secrecy, that we avoid any hig profile activity that would expose our beliefs to public examination. Are we ready for this? Of course there is risk involved but what exactly is the risk? Likely not a new wave of burnings. Public ridicule? Opening our hearts to strangers? This issue asks if we are self-indulgent (I'm guilty!) or can sincerely reach out to the unfortunate. Merely mimicing Christian actions is playing their game by their rules. No, creative action must be evolved. I'd advise to oppose the erosion of the separation and church and state and simply oppose this initiative. Our actions need to be free of the greed and power seeking inherent with a rush to apply to play in this game.
| Any Time That The Government Gets Mixed Up In Religion, We Are... ||Jan 29th. at 12:16:39 pm UTC|
|Yasmine Galenorn (Seattle, Washington US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
Any time that the government gets mixed up in religion, we are in for trouble. First it will start with supporting faith-based social programs, then it will extend into the conservative right creeping into the educational system, then our homes. We have to be very cautious not to get caught up in supporting an edict that goes against freedom from religion for those who choose to refrain from faith of *any* kind. Our country works best when we separate church from state, that is one of the primary tenets the U.S. is based on and we'd best not forget that--Christian, Pagan or otherwise. It's time we put a stop to these official 'religion-pushing' tactics. Call your senators, your representatives. Let them know we are here and we won't accept this (not-so-slow now) disintegration of our basic and agreed upon freedoms.
| As A Political Science Major, Bush's New Social Policies Interest Me A... ||Jan 29th. at 12:31:29 pm UTC|
|Hunter (Peterborough, Ontario CA) ||Age: 23 - Email |
As a political science major, Bush's new social policies interest me a great deal, although I am Canadian, and do not have to worry about the effects that these policies will have on me personally, they still trouble me a great deal. It is one thing to lead a country and quite another to willfully shape it's ideologies. Public policy is designed to reflect the needs concerns and moral perspectuives of the political society, however in a country that is so diverse, much like my own, the decision over who's perspectives have more weight unfortunatly lies in the hands of the few elite, who proudly wave their banners of democracy! North America as a whole has far greater concerns other then who beliveves what, what sexual preferances they have, and if they are pro choice or pro life. Recentally here in Canada two gay couples married in Toronto Ontario, and were sent letters of Congradulations from our Governor Gernal, (a status position left over from our British heritage), this letter sparked a great debate amoung the Christian fundamentalists here in Canada who were actually trying to make the Governor retract her original letter, which she did not. In the mean time here, we have people living in tent cities on contaminated land, Native peoples who live in subhuman conditions, childern who live far benieth the poverty line and giant Corporations that sue governments because they pass laws prohibiting the sale of toxic chemicals on our public markets. These are Canadain examples, however for ever one of ours Americans have mirror ones. My point is that our governing bodies today need to take a good look at their coutries as a whole and narrow in on the issues that effect everyone no matter what their religion, ethnicity or economic status is, and it is up to us as rational thinking individuals and members of the political society to exercise our rights to approach our governments though State Governers, and Members of Parlimant (Canadain) to see to it that these people that we sent to office to repersent our concerns actually do the job that they were sent to do. Bush's new social policies do little more then apease those fundamental groups that filled his coffers during his champaign, these policies are not designed with the well being of a strong American domestic sphear, if they were then policies that pit individual interests against one another would be left on the cutting room floor.
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