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Faith based charities: See, I told you so!

By Scott Tibbs, July 10, 2008

For several years now, I have criticized the President's support for giving tax dollars to "faith based" charities and warned that government money comes with government strings. Here are some of the things I have said.

  • In San Francisco, Catholic charities receiving aid from the city were told that if they did not provide equal hiring opportunities to homosexuals, they would not receive any more funding. -- February 21, 2001.

  • But the potential for government micro-management of private charities' affairs is too much of a risk to take. -- Indianapolis Star, July 17, 2001.

  • It is not difficult to imagine that the federal government, at some point, would place a requirement that organizations getting federal funds be "inclusive" in hiring practices. Charities that have come to rely on federal money will then have to choose between the money and doing something that violates their beliefs. -- December 28, 2004.

  • With government money comes government strings. When you accept money from government, you open yourself up to having regulations imposed on you as a condition of receiving that money -- March 10, 2005.

  • When a nonprofit agency takes money from government, they open themselves up to regulations they must abide by as a condition of that money. -- Herald-Times, March 22, 2005.

  • The government is not our friend and we cannot trust that the hand that helps us today will not be the fist that breaks our jaw tomorrow. -- August 31, 2006.

  • Conservatives should be wary of any government program than entangles church and state, especially one that aims to hook Christian charities on the narcotic of federal money. -- February 27, 2007.

Now, Barack Obama (who may well be our next President) is supporting a modified version of the "faith based" charities plan supported by President Bush. OneNewsNow.com reports on Obama's plan:

Obama says under his plan, faith-based groups that receive a federal grant will not be allowed to "proselytize" the people they help or hire people based on their religious beliefs.

See? I told you so!

If Obama's plan is implemented, private charities will be forced to choose between accepting government money and adhering to their principles. Would a church or parachurch organizations be forced to hire someone who holds beliefs in opposition to that organization's statement of faith? Would churches and parachurch organizations be required to hire someone who does not follow their faith at all? Would churches and parachurch organizations be required to hire someone who unrepentantly engages in serious sin?

This is exactly why conservatives need to be consistent in advocating for smaller, less powerful government. This is why the first question conservatives should ask about how to solve a problem is what existing government regulations, taxes and policies make the problem worse. This is why conservatives should encourage their elected officials - especially Republicans - to seek market-based solutions to problems, rather than solutions that come from government. That includes being very skeptical of new government programs, even if that new program is supported by a Republican and is popular with many who call themselves "conservatives."

"Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem." - Ronald Reagan