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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| In Theory, Faith Based Initiatives Are An Interesting Proposition. And Might Actually... ||Jan 29th. at 4:35:50 pm UTC|
|Jennifer (Columbus, Ohio US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
In theory, faith based initiatives are an interesting proposition. And might actually work in instances where secular programs have failed. However, considering that the certain groups that would most likely benifit are the groups that are heavily focused on proselytizing, I am deeply circumspect. To make matters worse, I have heard of NO provisions ensuring that all religions who so choose to administer such programs will have equal access. I have deep doubts, to be frank, outright disbelief that those in charge of approval process will be so concious of Freedom of Religion, a corner stone of the US Constitution. Who will gareentee that Pagans, Muslims, Jews, Hari Christners and even the Church of Satan will be able to get funding. Whether thru outright denial or beaurecratic process, I am sure we will be facing descrimination yet again.
Worse than that, I am deeply conserned that such groups admininstering aid will be able to require recipients to attend worship services, and religious education to suit the relig. trad that is providing the services. I think this, along with other issues and problems, will prevent many truly needy people from seeking the help they need. I also fear that these faith-based groups will become the only game in town under the Republican Right Agenda. For many of their ilk, they would take any opportunity to shut down all the social service agencies and departments if they could.
| As A Social Worker Who Studied International And Comparative Social Policy In... ||Jan 29th. at 3:10:20 pm UTC|
|Marea (Niagara Falls, Ontario CA) ||Age: 30 - Email |
As a social worker who studied international and comparative social policy in school, I've heard this all before. There was a time (not so long ago), that faith-based organizations were solely responsible for ANY support or welfare an individual needed. No government programs existed for welfare, workmen's compensation, employment insurance, health benefits, etc. Those seeking support from such faith-based programs were forced to conform their lives to the moral and religious doctrines of the organization, while enduring intensely patronizing and judgmental attitudes all the way. The reason we now have government programs is because we as a society collectively viewed the old "faith-based" system as inadequate and inequitable. Frankly, I don't believe a return to that system will show any difference in attitude between 2001 and 1901.
While the idea of spiritual service to another is laudable and as important as breathing, I don't believe we as a society have evolved to the point where we can trust one another to truly "love one another as I have loved you". We're not ready - not just pagans but all of us. The very attitude towards the definition of what and what is not a religion displayed by the current American administration proves this.
The only way I can see these attitudes changing is to show that we are able and willing - to devote much more of our efforts into serving and caring for those less fortunate in large scale ways that cannot be missed or misinterpreted. Otherwise, insist upon the strict separation of church and state in all funding matters - so that ANY religious organization may not recieve a penny of government funding. This is the only equitable way. Personally, I prefer the first alternative.
| George W. Has Made It Clear That He Stands For Religious Segregation... ||Jan 29th. at 3:08:21 pm UTC|
|Emerald (Fort Lauderdale, Florida US) ||Age: 19 |
George W. has made it clear that he stands for religious segregation. His brand of prejudice is ancient and distasteful. He and his associates seek to establish an Aristocracy with the hollow illusion of a Democracy, with the wealthy white conservative Christian men as the only folk in this country deemed 'competent' to deserve their rights as Americans and human beings. It reminds me of how these same people, two hundred years ago, tried to pass a voting tax that only the elite class could possibly afford. King George II thinks that just because the Supreme Court elected him President, we all inherit his religion the way countries used to inherit new religions when new Kings would take the throne or new conquerors come to dominate them. We know that Bush's faith-based religious plan will be targeted primarily at Christians, he has been saying as much all along, and while he may have to let some Jewish, Muslim, and perhaps Buddhist and Hindu groups have some of the funding, that is just for show, 98% of it will go to Christians, and as long as objects are still bound to the earth by gravity you can bet Mister Bush will see to it that no pagan or heathen group gets a single red dime of that money, afterall, as far as he's concerned we're manipulative devil-worshippers, and worse still he actually believes wholeheartedly that God and Jesus agree with him. I'm not saying we shouldn't try to get any of this money, let's try, and if we don't get to share in any of this funding let's organize and file a lawsuit or something. As for how I feel about the whole concept of faith-based plans, I disagree with it, and think that our Founding Fathers had a very good vision and it would be horrible to distort it by acting as though they did not say very specifically that no religion shall be endorsed by the U.S. Government, and likewise no religion shall be denounced by our Government, all religions are supposed to be recognized and respected. In closing, Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Al Gore.
| I Think We Only Need To Look At The Prayer Delievered By... ||Jan 29th. at 2:40:11 pm UTC|
|Dragon Hawk (Mesa, Arizona US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
I think we only need to look at the prayer delievered by Billy Graham's son during the inauguration to answer any questions about this issue. Graham called on Bush and his administration to do everything "according to God's law". As a Pagan, this really disturbed me. As a Gay Pagan, this scared and enraged me to no end. Although I understand Dubya's desire to help the needy of our country by providing them with much-needed resources and a sense of peace and dignity, I do not trust him and his administration, toadies to the religious right, to administer these proposed funds to organizations that would reach across religious and cultural lines. I don't think there is any other course of action to take but opposition on the grounds of maintaining the separation of church and state.
| I Thought The Right Wing Was Against Welfare, But What This Move... ||Jan 29th. at 1:33:21 pm UTC|
|Witchward (Chicago, Illinois US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
I thought the right wing was against welfare, but what this move basically amounts to is welfare for government approved Christian churches. We all know thaat there will be no Pagan organization receiving any of these funds, Bush promised us this during the campaign. Rest assured, in order to "unite and not divide" Bush will allow some funds to go to hand picked Islamic and Jewish organizations, however, I am doubtful that Buddhist, or Hindu organizations will receive anything.
I agree that Pagan organizations should apply for every penny of this we can. It can only add fuel to the fire of any lawsuits against this action. As a former volunteer minister in a state penal institution, I can honestly say that I personally spent a great deal of time, energy, and my own funds in order to attempt to help Pagan inmates come to grips and accept responsibility for the actions that landed them in prison. What's good for Christian organizations is good for a Pagan organization providing the same service.
| This Is Another Grey Area For Me... On The One Hand, If... ||Jan 29th. at 1:27:24 pm UTC|
|Rhiannon (Seattle, Washington US) ||Age: 34 |
This is another grey area for me...
on the one hand, if this was actually going to be a fair thing, open to ALL groups who are doing something to support and help the community, it could be a good thing. However, I don't see that happening with this administration. What will be the guidelines on who is chosen to receive monies? I echo the sentiment that many groups will be left out, we know where Bush stands in accords to religion.
I'm afraid I feel he is not really doing this for the good of all, but more to further himself, with his many relgious campaign backers. I could be wrong...
But I don't think so.
The question on separation of church and state, well that's obvious to me, it does go against that. This worries me as well. There was a reason it was separated in the first place, after all. It doesn't work the "other" way.
Another personal problem I have with this is I see so many large, expensive churches and I think to myself, they already have plenty of money, what are they doing with it besides building more elaborate places of worship? Do I want my tax dollars to go to such places, denominations aside, NO! I don't. While I still respect anyone's faith, one of the reasons I left the Christian path was the hypocrisy of such things. Preaching giving yet I saw so much taking, excess and...
oops, I'll stop that rant right there. You get the point.
I oppose this bill, I do not believe it will be all inclusive, just or fair, and I don't wish to see religion become one with the goverment, we've been there, done that.
If private citizens wish to contribute to programs of THEIR choice, that's wonderful, I don't think the President should be basically telling us which ones are worthy.
| I Highly Oppose This Move By Bush For Very Personal Reasons. My... ||Jan 29th. at 1:21:35 pm UTC|
|Morganlillith (Wixom, Michigan US) ||Age: 35 - Email |
I highly oppose this move by Bush for very personal reasons. My husband died 4years ago, leaving my daughter and I with very little resource. We had no insurance, and I had not been working, for I was home taking care of my sick husband. After his death, I had no recourse but to take help from Christian charities. My problem was that I had to denounce my own religious beliefs to accept this help. It left my daughter and I feeling helpless and ashamed. There were no pagen groups to help us through this tragedy which left us feeling abandoned and destitute. I have worked hard for the last 4 years to recover what life I had left, and the Christian "help" we recieved was little to nothing and for this I was to feel ashamed and hide my own religious beliefs. I see nothing but tragedy for all pagens who need help in the future. Bush has already denounced our religious faith, so to think that we would get any of this money to help our needy, is a pipe dream. It leaves the Christian radicals to spread thier idiology across this country, taking advantage of the sick and the poor. My prayers have been to see pagen schools and groves to open up in this country as visable as the Christian churches have been allowed to grow, to give people a place to go to get such help as they need and give our children a place to be educated without the harrassment that my family has been put through. Because of my religious beliefs, I have had to pull my child from 2 schools and endure death threats against her with no help from the school officials who were to protect her. Being a pagen in this country right now is dangerous enough without Bush pushing another nail in our coffins with this proposed bill. Personally, if this retoric continues, I have considered giving up my citizenship to become Canadian. At least I could find a home in which I am not afraid for my life or that of my children, and I could rear my children with religious beliefs without fear. I thought america was suppose to be based on religious freedom. Somehow, I feel I was wrong. It is religious freedom if you are Christian. Bush is just telling us all that if you are not Christian then get out of the country, and pretty soon, I will oblige. I would rather be canadian than live in fear and denounce my religious beliefs for the minority.
| Gwb's "faith-based" Program Is Plainly Unconstitutional And Illegal. Bush, And Those Who... ||Jan 29th. at 12:47:55 pm UTC|
|SGIWizard (St. Louis, Missouri US) ||Age: 34 - Email |
GWB's "faith-based" program is plainly unconstitutional and illegal. Bush, and those who are running the country through him, must have contempt
for the intelligence of the American public to try to push this through. People are bound to ask themselves why the new administration considers it "wasteful spending" to allocate federal funds for social programs, yet wishes to funnel the same $$ to churches for an ostensibly similar purpose. The answer is that the objectives aren't the same at all. Christian churches, which are bound to get the lion's share of the money should this program be
established, will use the funds to proselytize and push regressive social behavior on vulnerable people, often in desperate situations, who will listen to
just about anything to get warm food to eat and a roof over their heads.
I don't think we Pagans should try to make a grab for the funds, if they become
available. It's much more in our interest to promote a strict separation of church and state, as put forth in our Constitution, and to stress that the federal government is not allowed to promote ANY religious institution, financially or otherwise. If the public doesn't see the illegality of this program, after-the-fact complaints by left-out Pagans won't cause a light to dawn. Given GWB's refusal to recognize our religion, we have the proverbial snowball's chance of receiving any funds -- but if by some fluke we did get some, would we feel comfortable accepting it knowing that the vast majority of the remainder is going towards preaching fundamentalist dogma?
| 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.
| 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.
| 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.
| 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.
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