Thursday, July 28, 2005

Faith-Based Philanthropy

I find it discouraging to read that seventeen black religious leaders come scurrying to the White House at the bidding of your Rove, Bush, to grab the bait he tempts them with: nothing more than your promise, really, to put pressure on corporate philanthropy to channel funds in their direction. Not content with redirecting federal dollars into the hands of religious organizations for charitable distribution, you now want to use your influence to assure that corporate money heads the same way.

Some interesting statistics, in the August Harper's Magazine, Bush, about Christian America and its response to Jesus' injunction to feed the hungry, slake the thirsty, clothe the naked, and visit the prisoner. "In 2004," writes Bill McKibben, "as a share of our economy, we ranked second to last, after Italy, in government foreign aid. Per capita, we each provide fifteen cents a day in official development assistance to poor countries. And it's not because we were giving to private charities for relief work instead. Such funding increases our average daily giving by just six pennies, to twenty-one cents."

Okay, so the fifteen cents a day in government aid is now available for channeling through "faith-based" organizations; and you're plotting for the same to happen with the remaining six cents. To what end, Bush? I mean, it's fairly clear that there are expenses involved in the distribution of aid, and the money involved ends up in the hands of the faithful--presumably to provide salaries for their people, along with their costs. Am I wrong about this? Am I being obtuse? It looks to me like another way of the federal government stepping in to make a pitch for greater financial resources for religion.

No wonder the good ministers jump to the bait. Power, the promise of money, influence. A visit to the White House. Something of a personal ego boost, too, a cynic might suspect. A personal audience with you, your Rove--and even your Condi Rice, who was trotted out for the occasion! After which, by your Rove's calculations, they'll return to their flock and preach the values of evangelical conservatism! As they did in the last election--improving your share of the black vote, I hear, from nine to eleven percent. There's an ugly word for this kind of activity, Bush: it's called racism. And note, please: I'm not accusing you of being a racist. I'm simply saying that your Rove is using transparently racist tactics.

And, bottom line, it's all about politics, isn't it? It's not about religion. It's not about good Christian values. It's certainly not about feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the poor, or clothing the naked. Or only incidentally. What's at stake here is the black vote. What's at stake is expanding the power of the already powerful right wing. The most frightening thing about this, Bush, is the energy that's already going into the next election. Beyond Bush, what lies ahead? With a man like your Rove orchestrating everything behind the scenes, I dread to think. It's frightening, too, that nuggets like this get buried way beyond the headlines, in the unread pages of the newspapers; not a mention on the television news, so far as I know. It's not eye-grabbing news, is it? Seventeen black ministers gather at the White House? Big deal. But in such ways, the electorate allows itself to be manipulated without knowing, without caring, in the name of faith.


Anonymous said...

So much at stake, and so little wisdom. But what can one expect from corruptible self-righteous, fatuous little minds--dogma of any kind is always panted after by dogs, and "god" knows we have plenty of them both in the White House and out, all waiting to lick the Big Dog's balls and bowls. It don't matter what spots you have, either, black or white. Condi will teach those black men how to heel.

Anonymous said...

I have one thing to say:

Reverse tax exempt status for churches.

If they want to be a part of the political process, they will have to PAY for that right along with the rest of us. You can't have it both ways.