Saturday, October 08, 2005

Compassionate Conservativism in Minnesota

I just want to know why the hell some Wisconsin based group wants to make a fuss about this.

Pawlenty establishes faith-based initiative



ST. PAUL - Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants tighter connections between religious groups and state government, and on Friday he added Minnesota to a list of more than 20 states with faith-based initiatives.

The Council of Faith and Community Service Initiatives, a 15-member panel created by executive order, will help faith-based groups and community organizations get money and cut through red tape to help the needy.

The move drew immediate opposition from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, which is preparing to sue several other states over similar initiatives. The Madison, Wis.-based foundation says the efforts violate the constitutional separation of church and state.

"We will wait and see what they do in Minnesota. We will be watching them," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, the foundation's co-president. "We don't approve of this. This is not the business of government, to foster faith in any way."

Pawlenty's council follows the same lines as President Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, whose mission is to help religious groups get around bureaucracy and funding restrictions. The Republican governor says faith-based organizations and other community groups help people in ways government can't. He noted that they were key players in responding to hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"This effort will build further on that culture of community by using faith and community services to deliver society's needs with a caring touch and human emotion that government agencies simply can't match," Pawlenty said in a news release.

The council has a budget of $175,000 over two years. Pawlenty will appoint the members and plans to hire an executive director. The council will be charged with helping religious and community organizations get more access to public funds and state help. Plans include the creation of an Internet catalog of state and federal funding opportunities.

Potential assistance could include helping the state Health Department coordinate immunizations for needy immigrant children by using religious institutions to reach those families, Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung said.

Faith-based groups could include churches, mosques, synagogues and organizations linked to religious entities, such as the Salvation Army and similar charities.

Gaylor criticized similar councils in other states, saying they have been used for "very, very blatant proselytizing and indoctrination efforts funded by taxpayers."

She said the University of Minnesota dropped a proposed course on faith and health last month as part of a settlement with the foundation. The foundation also tried to sue the Bush administration over the White House faith office, but a court said the group didn't have standing to sue -- a decision it's appealing.

McClung said the state's council is in good company, and that no faith-based initiatives have been found in violation of federal or state constitutions.
(Source: Associated Press, Oct. 8, 2005)

Ms. Gaylor, the Bill of Rights bars the government from setting up an official religion. No where does it say that the government cannot support church based programs.


At 6:51 PM, Blogger lloydletta said...

If you are talking about a government sponsored soup kitchen - and people wanting to have soup are forced to listen to proseletizing to get soup, then it's a problem with separation of church and state.

Groups like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services generally don't cross that line. Others do.

Pawlenty was a big supporter for the Colin Powell Center - a project of Urban Ventures (known as Urban Vultures in the Central Neighborhood in Minneapolis).

At 4:47 PM, Blogger Toby said...

I think the state should give money to the Unitarian Church so they can hand out condoms to the gay community to promote safer sex. That'd be an excellent use of tax dollars and would piss off the good evangelicals that want this sort of thing so badly.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger bobbythehat said...

But whyever do we want our government - incompetent, bureaucratic, inefficient, or so Republican Minnesota says - to muck about with the efficent, caring, effective work of religious charities? But I don't quite see what Pawlenty is talking about. It don't seem to be giving money to, say, Lutheran Social Services, but maybe helping them get grants or enlisting their - unpaid? - help? Wonderful. Why does this call for a new bureaucracy? I suppose the help we got could handle it.

regards from bobbythehat


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