My Big Sis Weighs in on Faith-Based Initiatives
With Obama's recent announcement that he plans to continue a form of Bush's Faith Based Initiatives, I for one thought he was pandering. My sister's point of view has made me rethink that.
As an Austin-based attorney who works with victims, she offers this unique perspective:
Now, don't get excited, but I happen to support this program. I know Bush only started it to suck up to religious nuts and get votes, but that was typical Bush doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.
In my office, we deal with a lot of victims of human trafficking.
The things I've seen done to children and women are unspeakably horrid.
Before the FBCI thing, the only bunch that paid to totally care for victims of human trafficking (until state and federal assistance kicked in) was the Catholic Diocese of Texas, and occasionally some Lutheran churches.
For example, a few years ago 15 barely teenage girls were kidnapped from Mexico and forced into prostitution in the Dallas area.
When they finally were rescued, before the state or feds would pay for their food, shelter, clothing, medical care, etc., the victims had to wait to be "certified" as refugees.
This is a long process, and in the meantime the poor victims were in limbo between being deported and being out in the streets.
A Catholic church out of Dallas stepped in immediately and brought the parents to the U.S. to be with their kids, housed, fed and clothed them all and made sure they got medical care.
Everything was fine once the government aid kicked in, but that took almost 6 months. The Church even paid to enroll the kids in school and made sure they had books and supplies.
The churches were never repaid by the government, either.
That type of assistance was being offered mostly by churches and local charitable organizations all over the country.
As Bush pulled back government assistance (he canceled Head Start, for God's sake!), a lot of the churches and local groups stepped in and filled the void because they knew they couldn't count on our government to help.
I don't know how it happened, but Bush passed the Initiative and its been good for faith-based AND community services.
The money can't be used to build churches or for payroll, and churches can't force anyone to join in their religious activities, including worship services.
Those funds have to go to help the needy, and I've seen it work many, many times.
I capitalized the word AND above because its not just for faith-based organizations, it's also for neighborhood and community services, like after school care and feeding and caring for the elderly and sick.
What Obama is saying is that its a good program but it needs to be better. With federal funding, locals can look after their own without having to wait for stupid Washington D.C. to come to the rescue.
We need it.
The photo is of my doggy niece Dixi being blessed by an Austin priest. She's not very religious but she said the blessing was "just in case."