October 8, 2006


Bush brings faith to foreign aid: As funding rises, Christian groups deliver help -- with a message (Farah Stockman, Michael Kranish, and Peter S. Canellos of the Globe Staff, and Globe correspondent Kevin Baron, 10/08/06, Boston Globe)

The herders of this remote mountain village know little about America, but have learned from those who run a US-funded aid program about the American God.

A Christian God.

The US government has given $10.9 million to Food for the Hungry, a faith-based development organization, to reach deep into the arid mountains of northern Kenya to provide training in hygiene, childhood illnesses, and clean water. The group has brought all that, and something else that increasingly accompanies US-funded aid programs: regular church service and prayer.

President Bush has almost doubled the percentage of US foreign-aid dollars going to faith-based groups such as Food for the Hungry, according to a Globe survey of government data. And in seeking to help such groups obtain more contracts, Bush has systematically eliminated or weakened rules designed to enforce the separation of church and state.

As Exemptions Grow, Religion Outweighs Regulation (DIANA B. HENRIQUES, 10/08/06, NY Times)
In recent years, many politicians and commentators have cited what they consider a nationwide “war on religion” that exposes religious organizations to hostility and discrimination. But such organizations — from mainline Presbyterian and Methodist churches to mosques to synagogues to Hindu temples — enjoy an abundance of exemptions from regulations and taxes. And the number is multiplying rapidly.

Some of the exceptions have existed for much of the nation’s history, originally devised for Christian churches but expanded to other faiths as the nation has become more religiously diverse. But many have been granted in just the last 15 years — sometimes added to legislation, anonymously and with little attention, much as are the widely criticized “earmarks” benefiting other special interests.

An analysis by The New York Times of laws passed since 1989 shows that more than 200 special arrangements, protections or exemptions for religious groups or their adherents were tucked into Congressional legislation, covering topics ranging from pensions to immigration to land use. New breaks have also been provided by a host of pivotal court decisions at the state and federal level, and by numerous rule changes in almost every department and agency of the executive branch.

The special breaks amount to “a sort of religious affirmative action program,” said John Witte Jr., director of the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at the Emory University law school.

Professor Witte added: “Separation of church and state was certainly part of American law when many of today’s public opinion makers were in school. But separation of church and state is no longer the law of the land.”

The Right doesn't understand its own revolution.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 8, 2006 12:35 PM

Some of the right does indeed understand its own revolution. I know I read it right here that the Republican strategy should be to raise up generations of faith-based tax-eaters, to dismantle their machine as we erect ours. Those words are as clear in my mind as if I had written them myself.

Turning now to the utility of financing the operation of missionaries, which would we rather have, rice Christians or Ghost Dancers?

Posted by: Lou Gots at October 8, 2006 3:27 PM

So if religion is exempted from, or well, "separated" from various federal regulations and taxes, that brings down the separation of church and state?

Seems to me that much of what Professor Witte and the Times in the second article are complaining about is about religion being too separate from the government, outside its control.

Posted by: John Thacker at October 8, 2006 7:23 PM

Let them starve? Let them be baptized? Hard call for the NYT and Boston Globe.

Posted by: Vic Havens at October 9, 2006 7:03 PM