Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Faith-based Initiative Paid Off Politically

The LA Times has an article concerning Bishop Sedgwick Daniels, one of Milwaukee's most prominent black pastors. Link. After a long string of supporting Democratic candidates, Bishop Daniels supported Bush in 2004. His church had received $1.5 million for faith-based social services.

Daniels says it was not the federal money that led him to endorse the Republican candidate last year, but rather the values of Bush and other party leaders who champion church ministries, religious education and moral clarity. It was evidence to many religious African Americans that the GOP could be an appealing home...

The money that flowed to Daniels' church was part of a broader effort inspired by Bush's contention that religious groups can do a better job than government in providing such services as counseling, education and drug treatment. In 2003, the administration awarded more than $1 billion to hundreds of faith-based groups, some of which hadn't received such public funds in the past.
The African-American vote only increased by two percentage points in 2004 vs 2000 (11% vs 9%), but the increase was far greater in battleground states. Coincidently, faith-based money to Black churches was heavier in several of the battleground states than elsewhere in the country.

However, just because something helps you politically, that does not mean that it is not otherwise valuable. In many inner-city neighborhoods, churches are the only viable organization in a position to really help day-to-day. Social workers living in white suburbs can commute in to hand out checks, but the people in the inner-cities need a lot more than that.

President Bush is a deeply religious man, and he believes that religious leaders and religious organizations can connect with people in need far more effectively than many secular charities. Some addicts can give up dope with a 12-point program, but others need to be "reborn in Jesus" before they can face the world sober. We need both kinds of programs, and the faith-based initiative merely recognizes this.


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