Faith Based Initiatives=Government Sanctioned Discrimination

I guess I really shouldn't be surprised, but I've recently learned that there's an organization called the Kentucky Baptist Home for Children. A court ruled in late July that despite receiving most of their funding from the state and despite the fact that they are the main source of help for troubled teens, this organization has the right to fire a woman because she is a lesbian. The woman didn't "flaunt" her orientation: in fact, her employers found out only when they saw a picture of the woman with her partner at the county fair, so she certainly wasn't "promoting" homosexuality among her co-workers. Yet they fired her...and the decision to fire her was upheld by the US District Court. The only bright side to the ruling was that the judge allowed the case against government funding of a religious organization to continue.

Now maybe the government in Kentucky has a different version of the Constitution than I do because last I knew, it wasn't legal for the government to fund religious organizations. I went to a Catholic university that had a dental school. All students in the university, except those in the dental program (including dental hygiene) were required to take at least one semester of theology. They couldn't require that of dental students because the college received part of its funding from the federal and state government. So exactly what US Constitution is Kentucky following? How in God's name has this gone on for as long as it has— with this organization, a private religious organization— receiving government funding?

Then I got to thinking about Bush's "faith based initiative" (FBI...hmmm...). Why do we need laws allowing it if it's already happening and no one even knows that it's going on— or worse yet, they know but don't care— or worse yet, they know and think it's okay!?!? This reminds me of the time I read about a case in Mississippi in the early 90's— how many years after school prayer had been declared unconstitutional? And a mother had to sue the school district to stop the principal from saying prayers over the public address system. Once she sued, her kids were ostracized, she was threatened...all because she wanted the Constitution upheld. And threatened, nonetheless, by people who call themselves Christian! Did you ever see the movie "The American President" with Michael Douglas and Annette Benning? At one point in the movie, he's "accused" by his opponent of being a card-carrying member of the ACLU. He eventually holds an impromptu press conference where he says (paraphrasing) "Yes, I am a card carrying member of the ACLU. Why aren't you? This is an organization whose sole purpose is to uphold the Constitution. Why aren't YOU a member?" But I'm going off on a tangent here....

People say that faith based initiative will be helpful...and I'm not denying that faith-based organizations can provide wonderful assistance and are often so sorely lacking in funds that they can't be very effective in relationship to their potential. But what is being overlooked and downplayed is that those very same helpful people can also cause a whole lot of harm if they use their religious teachings as part of their counseling. The last thing a suicidal gay teen needs to hear is that God can't stand gays or that their lifestyle is a sin. The last thing a troubled pregnant teen needs is a lecture on how chastity and abstinence are needed or to be told that she MUST have her baby even though it may mean she is going to die. Or how about a biracial child who is told that marrying outside of one's race is a sin (yes, there are still people who believe that, even in this day and age)? Or let's go the other extreme and have a Buddhist run center teaching a Christian teen that they don't need to accept Jesus— how long do you think that would be tolerated by the Christian parent before there would be an uproar about how "they" have no right to go against the teachings of the parent. And yet they see nothing wrong with pushing their beliefs on troubled and emotionally vulnerable people who hold differing beliefs. It is a double standard that I find very hard to deal with. I just want to stand up and scream "Can't you see what a bunch of hypocrites you are?"

Before I continue, I want to stress that I know many Christians who don't agree with the faith based initiative bill. Many who wouldn't use their faith in social programs that had government funding. Yet in the vast majority of cases, these Christians are not elected officials and aren't working in the social programs. And there are other religions out there who are just as radical as some of the Christian groups. But the truth of the matter is that the vast majority of people in the US are of Judeo-Christian upbringing and therefore most of the social services groups that are religious will, statistically, be run by Christians. All it takes is one religious radical of any faith in the whole social service organization to do a whole lot of damage. However, because most of those organizations that are religious based will be run by Christians, most of the talk is about what damage Christians can do to those of differing faiths. I just want to acknowledge that I understand the damage can go both ways.

With that said, this case is a perfect example of why Bush's faith based initiative program is such a BAD idea. It will allow the continued discrimination against gays and because of the government funding, it will appear as if the government is supporting that discrimination and even condoning it. Any PRIVATE organization is free to discriminate all they want against anyone they want. But once a group accepts government funding or subsidies, then the group ceases to be a private group and must abide by anti-discrimination laws, otherwise taxpayer money is going to support discrimination and bigotry. I'm essentially being forced to shoot myself in the foot thanks to the President of the US, who was sworn to uphold the US Constitution. Maybe I should begin an impeachment petition due to his obvious lack of concern for fulfilling the job he was sworn to uphold.

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