Is Bush's Faith Based prog. now or going to become a major political organizing tool?

Steven Waldman says that other than a few circumstantial facts, he has no evidence that it is. But he thinks that it’s a real possibility, and he points out that Republican leaders loudly and at great length protested Clinton’s Americore program, despite the fact that it had all sorts of checks and balances to make sure that it wasn’t used for political organizing. It even had Clinton’s active involvement to make sure it wasn’t politicized. The grants worked mostly through Republican governors anyway. Clinton refused to use Americore members as props are speeches (Bush, on the other hand, does not seem to be concerned about this and has highlighted many of these programs on the campaign trail and will no doubt do more of it as time goes on)

Contrast that with the way Bush’s program works. There is no oversight. There is no scrutiny over funding or a drive to find room for reforms. There are no studies to even find out if the programs are actually acheiving any results. There hasn’t been a single GAO report, routine or otherwise. The former head of the program, a true believer in faith based programs, resigned over, among other things, his frustration that political discussions utterly drowned out discussion of policy, which few if any people in the White House seemed to have any expertise in or affinity for.

As Waldman points out, the temptation has to be extreme. There is no oversight, and no real hope of there ever being any oversight in the near future. Efforts to get help in campaigning for Bush is going on already within the very churches that are the recipients of government largess, including people like Pat Robertson.

Shouldn’t things be at least as scrutinized as Clinton’s programs were?

I spent two years in AmeriCorps. It was about as non-political as you could imagine. That didn’t stop the Pubs from trying to gut it every year, though. My specific corps was eliminated as soon as a Republican got into the governor’s office here. It was a good program and helped a lot of very needy kids. The Pubs hate AmeriCorps just because it was Clinton’s pet program.

The Faith Based Intiative, OTOH, is just a naked pander to the religious right. So is the school voucher scam the Pubs want so badly.

I think the fact that Bush recently tried to get the Pope to campaign for him shows that he has absolutely no shame about using churches for his political advantage and that he probably has no real grasp of SOCAS.

Unfortunately, I doubt that either the media or Congress has the will to scrutinize churches. Mosques, hell yeah. Buddhist temples, definitely, but Christian churches, never. Any scrutiny by anybody would be tagged as “anti-Christian.”

You’re probably right, friend Dio. But since we share, more or less, a general political persuasion, I’ll confide in you: I think we should stay out of thier way. I don’t think they’re shooting themselves in the foot. I think they’re shoving a stick of dynamite right up thier collective Nixon.

For one thing, Bush has gotten by a long time on a wink and a nod to reactionary Xtian right, without ever declaring just exactly which tribe has his primary allegiance. You and I know that there is some distinction between a fundamentalist and an evangelical, and that’s just for starters. GeeDubya makes gestures and symbolisms, to assure the Trog Right that he is One of Them, without ever actually specifying which them he is one of.

(I have kinfolks in Texas who are members of two very slightly different branches of the Church of Christ, it would take a micrometer to measure the difference in thier respective theologies, and they will hardly speak to each other…)

Now that works very much to GeeDubya’s benefit, everybody is assured that, in the final analysis, he is on thier side, all of them, all at the same time. So each and every one has good reason to believe that they are privileged in his sight. Their cup had by God better runneth over.

But if they hear that GeeDubyaCo is planning to fork over even one red cent to the Scientologists, or the Nation of Islam, or the Unification Church, they will go absolutely apeshit ballistic.

Besides these somewhat drastic schisms, there is the ordinary, mundane, everyday details of deciding whether to give the money to the Methodists or the Episcopalians, the Catholic or the Greek Orthodox. Oh,yeah, the Muslims. Almost forgot the Muslims. So who decides who gets the money? On what basis? Steel cage death matches?

The Bushiviks conspiracy to politicize the churches is a poisoned chalice. They will sow the fart and reap the shitstorm, verily. There shall be great weeping, and gnashing of teeth. (I do so love a demonstration of the gentle but relentless power of karma, don’t you?)

I doubt anything will explode in anyone’s face. Bush making moves to use religious groups as campaign fronts has been in the news plenty, and no one was terribly bothered. As for crucifying charitable organizations at political altars… I think that is something best left to Republicans. Not much will come of it, though plenty of people will get cushy jobs and campaign platforms. I’m not sure of Kerry’s stance, but I don’t see it as likely that he would start cutting it.

Sad world we live in.