Ever since I heard that a Fannie Mae-financed Seattle conference is in the works to link up churches with the largess that flows from Bush's Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, I've been abnormally curious about who these people are and what they're up to."It is that massive effort by people of concern and people of love to save lives which will change our nation for the better. In the midst of our plenty, there's darkness, but there's always hope. In the midst of plenty, there is sadness and loneliness, but there's always a soul to put your arm around and say, 'I love you.'"- President George W. Bush
Remarks at the 11th Regional
White House Conference on Faith-Based
and Community Initiatives
Los Angeles, CA, March 3, 2004
The most surprising thing I've learned is that there isn't simply one Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. In 2003, Bush issued an Executive Order instructing each of his cabinets to create their own version of said office.
Therefore, the Department of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education all have their own Centers for Faith-based and Community Initiatives, and are all encouraging churches and other non-profits to assume the work of caring for the needy, since the feds sure as hell aren't going to.
The genius of this only becomes apparent when one considers the political issues involved for any Democratic administration that would dismantle this apparatus. Say what you will about the Bush administration, they understand the meaning of structural change.
Insiders such as David Kuo have criticised the program as ineffective and highly politicized. Jimmy Carter, as part of his recent George Bush is the "worst President ever" remarks, drew special attention to the OFBCI, which disbursed $2.15 billion in 2005 alone.
“The policy from the White House has been to allocate funds to religious institutions, even those that channel those funds exclusively to their own particular group of believers in a particular religion. Those things in my opinion are quite disturbing,” Carter said. “As a traditional Baptist, I’ve always believed in separation of church and state and honored that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one.”