Point/Counterpoint pt1

Tony Cox Columnist

Faith-based groups do it better

Sometimes people will go to extremes to protect a good idea, but in doing so, they lose focus as to what is really important in the long run.

This is certainly the case with the issue of governmental funding for faith-based charitable organizations. Once again, advocates of the separation of church and state — a good idea per se — have gone off the deep end, potentially to the detriment of the American people.

Federal funding for faith-based initiatives has been quite the hot topic in Washington since George W. Bush took office. For years, faith-based and community organizations have had incredible difficulty procuring federal funds to do the charitable work that plays such a valuable role in American society. At times, this has been downright impossible, as many claim that to fund such organizations would violate the separation of church and state. Many have even gone so far as to suggest that the funded organizations would attempt to use the money in order to try and convert people to their particular religion or faith group.

Clearly, this is preposterous. President Bush’s plan only provides for funds that would assist these faith-based groups in performing their vital role as caretakers of the community, providing services to persons who would otherwise have little or no access to the much-needed help that these groups can offer.

Faith-based organizations are also much more efficient when it comes to handling the money they have. Wasteful spending is rampant in government because, ultimately, no one has to answer for it. The buck gets passed from one office to another, and the only reward goes to political demagogues, who return to their districts boasting about how much money they were able to procure for their communities — never mind how that money is spent once it reaches home.

But it’s about more than money. Many see the government — and rightfully so — as a cold, stale system of endless bureaucratic red tape in which a person is oftentimes just a number on a screen. Person-to-person contact is virtually nonexistent, and special circumstances are rarely taken into account. The typical Democrat’s solution to a problem is to just dump more money into a program and hope for the best. But President Bush knows that there are a lot of things that money alone cannot accomplish, and his plan for funding faith-based organizations seeks to eliminate some of the impersonality (and consequent inefficiency) that inevitably comes with government-run programs.

Despite accusations from the radical left, most Americans who support the president’s plan are not religious extremists who seek to further their own philosophical agendas by abusing taxpayer monies. Rather, they are people who just want to be able to make a difference in their communities. Who can blame them for being fed up with a system that makes it hard to do something good? Federal funding for faith-based and community groups may not solve all of the fiscal woes created by big government, but no one can reasonably argue against the fact that it’s a step in the right direction.

Tony Cox is a junior philosophy major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].