Op-Ed Articles Respond to Bush's Faith-Based Initiative

January 31, 2001

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

On January 31, 2001, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette published an op-ed piece by Sally Kalson that raised concerns about Bush's faith-based initiative. "If the government says 'no' to the Branch Davidians but 'yes' to the Southern Baptists who are proposing to do the same thing, is that religious favoritism, discrimination or an invitation to litigation?" Will people, she asks, want to support with their taxes the program of a fundamentalist church whose members believe "the more women submit to their husbands, the more peaceful and happy their homes will be? How about a Jerry Falwell counseling center for gays and lesbians based on the notion of 'reparative therapy' that purports to turn homosexuals into heterosexuals through faith in Jesus? Or a drug and alcohol treatment center run by the Church of Scientology, where addicts not only receive standard therapy but also are encouraged to study the writings of L. Ron Hubbard?" According to Kalson, government funding for faith-based social services has been going on for years, but with certain rules. "You had to serve everyone on a nonsectarian basis; you had to eschew proselytizing; you had to follow nondiscriminatory hiring practices that don't otherwise apply to religious institutions." But Bush, she says, "intends for something else to happen with federal money than has been happening already...Faith in the power of God to change the human heart is, in fact, at the core of some of the programs Bush touted in Texas...Furthermore, this plan will allow religious organizations receiving public funds to hire only those people who share their beliefs." She pointed to a Bush comment that particularly struck her: "When we see social needs in America, my administration will look first at faith-based programs and community groups, which have proven their power to save and change lives," he said. Kalson concludes by saying, "I'd much rather see my tax dollars placing children in permanent homes than defending a barrage of religious discrimination lawsuits."