Faith-Based Partnerships

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From Linda Warncke: Just wanted to let you know that after 8 years directing the local food-share program as a faith-based charity, I closed it down.    

It was frustrating to be compelled to serve increasing numbers of applicants without being able to verify the information they were supplying in order to qualify.  Some time ago (two years, maybe) we were instructed by the regional distribution agency and Oregon Food Bank that we could not ask for verification.   At the same time we were serving more people who were not involuntarily in hardship or who were misrepresenting their income status, we were suddenly getting more cases of food from USDA and encouraged that "The more you distribute, the more you will get."  This seemed generous on the part of the government at first, but became quite labor intensive for the volunteers.

Food stamp recipients must prove their income status, but food box recipients and free-lunch recipients have no such requirement.  Obviously more people apply for food boxes than apply for food stamps.  The press touts this as an indication of more need, but it may be simply because the food is available and you don't have to establish need in order to access it. 
The food-box application forms have information/statistics-gathering questions to be filled in by the applicants, but without any verification there is no guarantee any of the information is valid.  Yet this same information is used by the regional, state, and federal agencies to support their contentions of "need".  I don't wish to imply that there are no genuine needs but that these get lost in the fray of such an open invitation to misrepresent.
Our oversight board began to question the value of continuing to operate our food pantry because of political misrepresentations and the encouragement to socialistic-type dependencies under the guise of 'need'.  
At the time we closed our doors, there seemed to be plenty of work-opportunity for any who wanted to work.  I had felt heart-sick for some time prior to this closing because it seemed that volunteers were doing more and more for increasing numbers of people who wanted to do less and less and the political pressure was building to escalate the system into overdrive.
It became more and more apparent that when USDA and government money are involved, you work essentially for them.  The volunteers become a vast unpaid labor force which is a convenient conduit for agricultual subsidies and non-profit bureaucracies.   The private non-profits have a stake in escalating the system in their favor because they have paid administration staff who make a living this way.  I was receiving continual "Hunger Advocacy" political propaganda through the state and regional agencies, much of which seemed to be distorted information.
The politicians get "noble-cause" brownie points from the appearance of helping the "down-and-out" but have no genuine motivation to develop social policies and economic policies that diminish the "down-and-out."  There is more pay-off to keeping the problem than in solving the problem.
It is painful to see families who work full-time not be able to earn enough to support themselves.  It is also painful to see the Federal Reserve raise interest rates because the minimum wage is increased, and wipe out any gain the low-rung folks may get.  It is also painful to be giving out free food to individuals who misrepresent their income status in order to get a "freebie".
What would be great is if neighbors would care for neighbors and family members would help support the people in their own families that have need or adverse circumstances.  But what motivation is there to do this when the government and the convenient volunteer labor force find it noble to plug everyone in to a federal nipple?
Is it the function of government to be the universal nipple?  Seems our society will have to decide.  I don't look for any wonderful, wise solutions any too soon.  I know there are people who experience hardship and who need help, but is it wise to tie up godly ministry with the cords of secular government rather than seeking the Lord to provide?

A multiple mailing from Gary Kreep, President of the US Justice Foundation:  "The UNITED STATES JUSTICE FOUNDATION (USJF) today announced that it had submitted an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief in the case of Catholic Charities of Sacramento, Inc., v. State of California, et al., Case No. C037025, in the Third Appellate District of the Court of Appeal of the State of California. The case is on appeal from a decision of the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Sacramento, Case No. 00AS03942. The brief was filed by USJF on behalf of LIFE LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, of Napa, California, and CALIFORNIA PUBLIC POLICY FOUNDATION, of Camarillo, California.

The litigation was filed by CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF SACRAMENTO, INC., challenging California Health & Safety Code § 1367.25 and California Insurance Code § 10123.196, which require all employer-provided health insurance coverage to include coverage for contraceptives. Based on the language of the legislation, this could include a requirement by a Catholic charity to provide RU486, the so-called “morning-after pill” abortion device."

This shows the danger of faith-based partnership to Christian  charities. What began as a seemingly benign and mutually beneficial arrangement, is sealed in law and government regulations which gradually tighten its ropes.

From Sherry:  Following is Senator Grassley's reply in re my concerns regarding faith-based initiatives.  I am so disappointed as I thought that he was for less government.  How can there be separation of church and state when government funds programs which are implemented through the churches?  Notice he does not take a stand to thwart distribution of federal funds through the churches.
Dear Senator Grassley:
Sherry had written: 

How on earth could this have happened? This is not some benevolent act.  It is a direct affront on the sovereignty of communities and churches across America.  The Federal Government has no business doing this.  I am stunned.

Please assure me that this can be overturned.

Senator Grassley's response:

"Dear Mrs. Halvorson:
Thank you for taking the time to contact me with your opinions.  As your Senator, it's important for me to hear from you.
I want to assure you that I firmly support the separation of church and state.  At the same time, I do not support discrimination against religion.
Faith based organizations do tremendous good by feeding the poor and housing the homeless.  In fact, private charities, such as churches and other faith based groups often see greater success than government programs do on efforts to help the poor, the incarcerated, and at-risk youth.  In our fight against poverty, I believe that we should explore every option we can to help the needy.  The Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am a member, has scheduled a hearing next month on the constitutionality of federally funded faith based initiatives.
I will be sure to keep your view on faith based initiatives in mind as the Senate considers this issue.
Again, thank you for contacting me.  I appreciate hearing your views and urge you to keep in touch.
Charles E. Grassley
Unites States Senator"
 Sherry also sent a copy of President Bush' Executive Order on Faith Based Partnerships:

January 31, 2001 (Volume 66, Number 21)]
[Presidential Documents]              
                Executive Order 13199 of January 29, 2001

                Establishment of White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

                By the authority vested in me as President of the
                United States by the Constitution and the laws of the
                United States of America, and in order to help the
                Federal Government coordinate a national effort to
                expand opportunities for faith-based and other
                community organizations and to strengthen their
                capacity to better meet social needs in America's
                communities, it is hereby ordered as follows:

                Section 1. Policy. Faith-based and other community
                organizations are indispensable in meeting the needs of
                poor Americans and distressed neighborhoods. Government
                cannot be replaced by such organizations, but it can
                and should welcome them as partners. The paramount goal
                is compassionate results, and private and charitable
                community groups, including religious ones, should have
                the fullest opportunity permitted by law to compete on
                a level playing field, so long as they achieve valid
                public purposes, such as curbing crime, conquering
                addiction, strengthening families and neighborhoods,
                and overcoming poverty. This delivery of social
                services must be results oriented and should value the
                bedrock principles of pluralism, nondiscrimination,
                evenhandedness, and neutrality.

                Sec. 2. Establishment. There is established a White
                House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
                (White House OFBCI) within the Executive Office of the
                President that will have lead responsibility in the
                executive branch to establish policies, priorities, and
                objectives for the Federal Government's comprehensive
                effort to enlist, equip, enable, empower, and expand
                the work of faith-based and other community
                organizations to the extent permitted by law.

                Sec. 3. Functions. The principal functions of the White
                House OFBCI are, to the extent permitted by law: (a) to
                develop, lead, and coordinate the Administration's
                policy agenda affecting faith-based and other community
                programs and initiatives, expand the role of such
                efforts in communities, and increase their capacity
                through executive action, legislation, Federal and
                private funding, and regulatory relief;

                    (b) to ensure that Administration and Federal
                Government policy decisions and programs are consistent
                with the President's stated goals with respect to
                faith-based and other community initiatives;
                    (c) to help integrate the President's policy agenda
                affecting faith-based and other community organizations
                across the Federal Government;
                    (d) to coordinate public education activities
                designed to mobilize public support for faith-based and
                community nonprofit initiatives through volunteerism,
                special projects, demonstration pilots, and public-
                private partnerships;
                    (e) to encourage private charitable giving to
                support faith-based and community initiatives;
                    (f) to bring concerns, ideas, and policy options to
                the President for assisting, strengthening, and
                replicating successful faith-based and other community
                    (g) to provide policy and legal education to State,
                local, and community policymakers and public officials
                seeking ways to empower faith-based and
                other community organizations and to improve the
                opportunities, capacity, and expertise of such groups;
                    (h) to develop and implement strategic initiatives
                under the President's agenda to strengthen the
                institutions of civil society and America's families
                and communities;
                    (i) to showcase and herald innovative grassroots
                nonprofit organizations and civic initiatives;
                    (j) to eliminate unnecessary legislative,
                regulatory, and other bureaucratic barriers that impede
                effective faith-based and other community efforts to
                solve social problems;
                    (k) to monitor implementation of the President's
                agenda affecting faith-based and other community
                organizations; and
                    (l) to ensure that the efforts of faith-based and
                other community organizations meet high standards of
                excellence and accountability.

                Sec. 4. Administration. (a) The White House OFBCI may
                function through established or ad hoc committees, task
                forces, or interagency groups.

                    (b) The White House OFBCI shall have a staff to be
                headed by the Assistant to the President for Faith-
                Based and Community Initiatives. The White House OFBCI
                shall have such staff and other assistance, to the
                extent permitted by law, as may be necessary to carry
                out the provisions of this order. The White House OFBCI
                operations shall begin no later than 30 days from the
                date of this order.
                    (c) The White House OFBCI shall coordinate with the
                liaison and point of contact designated by each
                executive department and agency with respect to this
                    (d) All executive departments and agencies
                (agencies) shall cooperate with the White House OFBCI
                and provide such information, support, and assistance
                to the White House OFBCI as it may request, to the
                extent permitted by law.
                    (e) The agencies' actions directed by this
                Executive Order shall be carried out subject to the
                availability of appropriations and to the extent
                permitted by law.

                Sec. 5. Judicial Review. This order does not create any
                right or benefit, substantive or procedural,
                enforceable at law or equity by a party against the
                United States, its agencies or instrumentalities, its
                officers or employees, or any other person.

                    (Presidential Sig.) B

                THE WHITE HOUSE, January 29, 2001.

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