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: Nov. 17, 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.
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| Politics Generates Personal Opinion: Here Is Mine! And I Find I... ||Feb 2nd. at 5:55:23 pm UTC|
|Tree (Atlanga, Georgia US) ||Age: 55 - Email |
Politics generates personal opinion: here is mine! And I find I am in agreement with a spokesperson for the Texas Southern Baptist Convention who, on NPR, stated that they did not want their tax dollars to go to religous groups with whom they did not agree. Since I don't agree with Southern Baptists (I find their fear-based religion nauseating and their denigration of women intolerable) I certainly don't want my tax dollars supporting their initiatives... no matter how benign. Money taken from government hand-outs just frees up money for religious activities.
But, herein lies the challenge: The Republican administration _IS_ going to remove federal money from social programs. They campaigned on this issue and I believe them when they say they will follow through. So all of us... Pagan, Jew, Muslim, Xtian, etc... need to see what we can do to plug the holes.
Tree in Atlanta
| In The Past We Have Witnessed The Horror Of Theocracy. We See... ||Feb 2nd. at 3:53:29 pm UTC|
|Quentin Bounds (St. Thomas, Pennsylvania US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
In the past we have witnessed the horror of theocracy. We see it even today in the "Fundamentalist" nations of the world. The radical scale of genocide for fundamentalists range from the modern exploits of Hitler (a fundamentalist of state) all the way back to the genocidal wars of the biblical Middle-East (involving theocratic fundamentalists). Remember the Crusades? All these things should stir in the mind when we enter in to thought on Gods and government.
It also seems that limitations have a way of changing over time, sliding down the fallicious "slippery slope" to one side of the issue or the other, as is demonstarted by the firearms problems our nation is embroiled in as we speak. The problem derives from the question of where we draw the line and how it is that we can hold that line at that point? In the history of the United States, the only "bans" or limitations that have been effective even in part have been those that are total and only involve those things which have never been a formative part of the culture. Once we have begun to deregulate certain activities, we find that the Pandora's box we open cannot be closed again, for the spirits we unleashed grow in number and strength. Like the prohibitionists discovered in the early twentieth century, good intentions can not erase culturally integrated concepts and practices. The price for that mistake was paid in blood as well as dollars. Savatsyana I believe said that those whose history is forgotten to them will relive it. Can we afford the price of a failed experiment at this critical time in our national history? Haven't we sullied the prestige of our Nation enough with scandal that we should feel the need to violate even the charter on which our nation was founded?
This indirect endorsement, then, of religion by government is likely to be one that we can not revert from once the course has been set. The emotion with which the issue is charged by is a thousand times greater than that of the firearms issue. It is a conundrum which enjoins all of the people, be they Jew, Pagan, Christian, or even Atheist. It is likely that once we step down this road, we can not go back without suffering the same wars and trials that our Brothers and Sisters have endured for generations in Yugoslavia, Ireland, and the Middle-East.
This having been said, it is a matter of grave consideration that stands before us; Do we taint the already imperfect purity of our spirituality with the fruits of often misguided politicians? Can we bear the new and additional burdens of scrutiny of our private lives will undergo? And if the proposition proves to favour the stronger religious factions too heavily, can we disentangle the Church and the State. If so, at what cost?
I am for all peoples of positive Faith, but I can not belie the principles of my national heritage when so much is at stake.
| While I Agree That This Is A Horrible Step Towards Putting Christianity... ||Feb 2nd. at 2:51:03 pm UTC|
|Caliana Moonstone (Castle Rock, Colorado US) ||Age: 22 - Email |
While I agree that this is a horrible step towards putting Christianity at the head of our society, I do believe that we as a community need to unite behind our own charities to attempt to get this funding. Frankly, if we want to save this country from apathy we need to show the masses that the administration plans on placing it's own religion on top, to do that we need to prove a bias exists, simple. In addition we do suffer from a lack of organization and internal fights, ie. witch wars. We need to support each other regardless of ideological differences, that should be our true goal right now, because as a united but diverse front we will have the strengths of both traits. We need to fight for our rights and the education of the public, and not bicker over differences in belief or practice.
United we can overcome.
Love and Light
| We All Saw This Coming, Right? So We're Not Surprised That In... ||Feb 2nd. at 1:42:20 pm UTC|
|Nelli (Carmel Valley, California US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
We all saw this coming, right? So we're not surprised that in his first two weeks of office dubya has done his level best to knock back environmental progress by about 15 years, has hired (with the help of congress, of course) an alledged bigot and right wing fundamentalist to be the Secretary of State, and has designed a program that seems to be a very thinly veiled monetary homage to the religious elements that helped him into office. Still, there are a lot of things about this little initiative (or whatever it's called) that are unclear to me. Does it state unequivocally which groups are considered to be faith based? Would AA, for instance, count? And, of course, would various buddhist, hindu, pagan, etc. charity organizations count? Who, exactly, decides who gets money, and how much money does each group get? Would a little-known mormon or Jehovah's Witness homeless shelter get the same funding as an eminent Protestant program to help the homeless? Who decides what the term "faith-based" means? I have a deep faith in the principles and current theories of science, like quantum physics and whatnot; if I got a group of like-minded individuals together and started a substance abuse program, would I get funding from this program? (I know, yeah right!) And if not, why not? These are all questions we should be asking those people who are in the know about this initiative.
Of course, aside from all that, I think it's a blatant and apalling violation of the separation of church and state, and I'm opposed to it. I would not object to an office which granted government money to private charities upon request, REGARDLESS OF "FAITH" OR LACK THEREOF, so long as those charities had certain goals - substance abuse recovery, help for the homeless, literacy programs, etc.
On a personal note, I am distressed by the inference that to have "faith", one must have religion. I have faith in a great many things, including gravity, infinity, evolution, love and beauty. But I don't have a "religion". I am in the same camp with the 'secular pagan' who wrote in earlier. I have faith that people can help and heal each other; I have faith in the law of cause and effect; I have faith that people can help themselves without needing to believe in god or gods. Does that qualify me as "faith-based"? I don't know.
I don't think this is a conspiracy per se. I don't think dubya's smart enough to operate a consiracy. This is just what he does, how he lives, he does what he wants, and he gets what he wants. He wanted the presidency, and he got it. He wants to pander to mainstream religions, and he's not going to let something insignificant like the US constitution get in his way.
I hope we're all prepared for at least four more years of this, and for the decades of clean-up that we'll have to do afterwards.
Blessed be, and good luck to us all!! !
| I'm Not A Constitutional Lawyer, But I Don't Think It Goes To... ||Feb 2nd. at 12:28:02 pm UTC|
|Columba (West Winfield, New York US) ||Age: 44 - Email |
I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but I don't think it goes to "establish" a state religion if religious organizations social outreach programs are funded partially by the state--but a solid argument could be that it's the "thin edge of the wedge, " as my granpa would say.
However, if the office survives constitutional challenges (and there are some already in the works, I think pagan organizations MUST fight for some of those dollars, if we see our community work as valid. Pagan AA groups, education groups, etc., must be counted in the pool. The charges of a "takeover" by the regligious extremists on the conservative end of the idealogical platform will only be possible if we allow them the power, and money, to be the only voice in the chorus. If we claim our fair share, they will not be the defacto beneficiaries. And if we don't claim our share, we will have given them victory without their ever having to do a thing. That cannot be allowed. Better to lose a fight than to just roll over and let them stomp us.
| As Both An Atheist And A Pagan (we'll Save The Explanation Of... ||Feb 2nd. at 12:14:14 pm UTC|
|Secular Pagan (Minneapolis, Minnesota US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
As both an Atheist and a Pagan (we'll save the explanation of THAT for another day!) I am doubly concerned about this hammer-blow to the wall of separation between church and state. If the Supreme Court Appointee to the Presidency wants to channel government funds into "more efficient" private charities, there are plenty of NON-SECTARIAN, SECULAR charities to choose from! And people of faith -- all faiths -- as well as people of no "faith" support these non-sectarian charities. I am deeply suspicious, as are many, that this is a not-so-veiled attempt to bring about the Religious Reich's vision of a Christian Nation. Be afraid, be angry, and take that energy and use it to resist this hostile takeover of what *was* a free and pluralistic nation.
| We Should Join Together And Let President Bush Know Who We Are... ||Feb 2nd. at 12:13:40 pm UTC|
|Eodain (Denton, Texas US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
We should join together and let President Bush know who we are and of the charity that ALL non-Christians are accomplishing.
It doesn't matter if this initiative is a "subtle plot" or if Bush really does
intend to promote Christianity at the expense of all other faiths. It doesn't matter if Pagans don't actually get any money from the Bush administration. This is our opportunity as Pagans to be recognized on a national level as people and organizations doing good for others rather than serving only ourselves.
Let it be known to the networked global village that Pagans ARE here to help, WITHOUT proselytizing, and it will test whether Bush can maintain his bipartisan and conciliatory image. How can he refuse us (pardon the pun)...in good faith?
Contact the media and make the world watch him!
| Mm & Bb, The Thought Of The Federal Government Giing Tax-payer Funds To... ||Feb 2nd. at 10:46:14 am UTC|
|Lew Stamper (Estill, South Carolina US) ||Age: 54 - Email |
MM & BB,
The thought of the Federal Government giing tax-payer funds to any religious based organization is not a good one. It will promote a government sponsered religion. By its own standards it has already stated that it will fund "mainstream" Christian charitable organizations. While this has not been stated openly, it is being heavily hinted at. When George W. is, and has been, asked about his feelings towards the Pagan/Witch movements, he has been somewhat critical. Since he and his staffers are fundamentally of Christian traditions, we in the Pagan/Witch traditions will be pushed aside. We will be told that what we believe and practice does not count since we are not "recognized" charitable organizations.
No, this must not happen. If it does go through, then we must apply for some of those funds. Then if refused, we will have to file a class action suit in federal court to become "recognized".
Thanks for listening, Lew.
| I Would Be Less Concerned About This Plan If It Actually Had... ||Feb 2nd. at 8:38:12 am UTC|
|Jill (Bloomington, Indiana US) ||Age: 20 |
I would be less concerned about this plan if it actually had to go through Congress. I think that there would be at least a decent chance that such a bill would be voted down. However, if I understand correctly, Bush is establishing his "faith-based initiative" by means of an executive order. In other words, he doesn't have to get the approval of Congress - he bypasses them entirely. It seems to me that this is a clear sign that the "Bush administration" itself doesn't think that this plan will pass Constitutional muster. However, by skipping a Congressional vote, they can at least implement their little scheme until they are challenged in the courts (which will, hopefully, not take too long to happen!).
| Let's See Now..first The Repugs And Demos Cut Social Spending To... ||Feb 2nd. at 2:23:08 am UTC|
|Sequoia (Redwood Valley, California US) ||Age: 57 |
Let's see now..First the repugs and demos cut social spending to the bone, gutting legal aid, clinics for the poor, day care subsidies, and on and on. Soon after he assumes the presidency Baby Bush declares that Wicca is NOT a religion. Then Baby Bush says he wants "Faith Based" organizations to have our tax monies to minister to the disadvantaged.Are we seeing a pattern here? Do we understand that there is an underlying plan to force everyone into a "controlling authority" be it in thrall to a hierarchical religious charity or jail (if you are poor these are becoming your only choices). We have a very, very scarry future to contemplate here folks. Pay attention!
| Hmmm...i Can't Keep Up With Politics Very Well, So I Will... ||Feb 1st. at 11:49:46 pm UTC|
|Irk (Ruston, Louisiana US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
Hmmm...I can't keep up with politics very well, so I will say what I can based solely on the wording of "FAITH IN ACTION: A New Vision for Church-State Cooperation in Texas", and on general knowledge of How It Is down here in the lovely Bible Belt.
Look, ignoring all religious implications entirely (that'll just start us chasing our tails) look at what the plan really says:
"In the final analysis, there is no overcoming anything without faith Đ be it drugs or alcohol or poverty or selfishness or flawed social policy."
It just said that the faith organisations are going to help fix social policies. That is going to be *pure chaos*. The Catholics and the Baptists are at each other's throats - how does anyone expect *separate* religions to agree unanimously on social policy? That's crazy talk, man! *grin* Truly, though, it's obvious from the outset that if Bush is using this blueprint then the purpose of the whole deal extends not just to religion helping the needy, but the country as a whole. Whether or not this is a good thing is up to you.
Also, it says that religion is the cure for my selfish desire to pilfer chocolate. That's WRONG.
"Today's welfare system, however, has fallen short of its original purpose, serving instead to trap many people in government dependence."
Geez, another attack on Welfare? The Republicans don't know how to pull their punches. This statement alludes a lot to the partisan-ness of this whole thing. However, the most disturbing statement is, by far, this:
"We need to re-energize the "little platoons" that shape good citizens and combat antisocial values."
I'm not referring to the military metaphors here, as they're probably someone's attempt at cute humor. No, what riles me is that this is all to make us 'good citizens'. And combat 'antisocial values'. As an introvert, I feel threatened. As someone who is often sarcastic and a lover of irony and generally aproves of the belief that sometimes you can't be quite nice, I feel threatened. And as a unique individual, I feel threatened.
Look, ignoring secular/religious implications and arguments, this whole schindig is still, at the core, about changing people to suit someone's ideal. That's really what's at the root of Fundamentalist Christianity anyways. So ignoring anyone's private religious agenda and any conspiracies, this puppy's still pretty cracked. Here's to Antisocial Values. I feel like being a cynic today, thank you.
| Merry Meet To All! I Was Just Stopping By And Saw This... ||Feb 1st. at 11:13:03 pm UTC|
|Chris Swallow (Keflavik, Iceland, ARMED FORCES EUROPE US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
Merry Meet to all! I was just stopping by and saw this intruiging(can't spell) question on Witchvox and decided to put in my 2 cents. But first, I wanted to read over some of what other's thought. I only got 2 down before I had to write myself. There was a post that someone wrote offering some contructive thoughts towards President Bush's plan. While I do not disagree with SOME of Beige Allen's views, there are some that I wanted to address.
I believe that a Pagan Charity would be a wonderful idea. In truth I agree that there is a MONOPOLY, or so to speak, on the charity department by Christians. Not that that is a bad thing, some of those charities are run very well and go towards the greater good. I also agree with Mr. Allen that Christian's are not our enemy. We should have no enemies.
But there is one thing that really drove me to write and it had nothing to do with the question at hand. It had to do with one of Allen's statements: "There are far too many in our Pagan community that see disorganization as our greatest strength when in fact, it is our greatest weakness. What is worse is that it is a weakness we choose, not one that is thrust upon us. The Christians are not our enemy anymore, we have become our own worst enemy."
I utterly disagree. I do not see it as a disoranization. Wicca is a religion bound in diversity and change. It's "unorganized" manner separates it from other religions. Christianity lost its flavor to me when I realized that all my thoughts were scripted for me. All of my beliefs and practices were not, infact, my own they were all the beliefs that were taught to me and could be unchanged.
I found in Wicca that that was not the case. If I wanted to practice with a butterknife and a dinning room table...that was ok. I didn't have to go to a walled cathedral to welcome the goddess and god into my heart.
While some may argue that out lack of disorganization is a threat, I say it is a blessing. It brings us individuality that is so preacious.
Well, allow me to get off my box now and get back to the point at hand. Yes, this does violate the separation of Church and State...in my opinon. I don't believe that taxpayer money should be spent on religous organizations. Even though they do a good thing for thier communities and for the followers of thier faiths, they do not support the views of all.
On a second note, I also believe that Wiccans will NOT be able to partake in this. Not because of the great "christian" conspiracy, but simply because we are not seen in Mr. Bush's eyes as a religion. We are mearly a cult in his eyes as is evident in his practices in Texas. I am in the military and he has already said during his campaign that he will try to abolish the practice of Wicca at government chapels on US bases. But that is for another day. Thank you for hearing my views. May the Goddess and God embrase you in all that you do.
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