Today (February, 20th 2001) marks the opening of George W. Bush's
solution to tackling social issues, The Office of Faith Based and Community Initatives. This office will provide federal funding
organizations for programs concerning such issues as literacy
, substance abuse
and sexual abstinence
This new office has been the subject of much controversy
. When George W. Bush signed the office into existence, leaders from the Christian
communities were present, however, many people feel that paints a rather inaccurate portrait
No one debates that these faiths represent the majority of Americans, but to millions of Americans who do not fit into these groups the outlook
is bleak. Geroge W. Bush has been quite vocal about which groups he considers to be valid faiths, particularly against Wiccans and Scientologists.
Even within the Office, schisms have already formed. The Jewish anti-defamation league
has already made motions to prevent any federal funding to The Nation of Islam
, whose leader Louis Farrakhan
has a history of antisemitism. Also, the question unasked by the media
, seems to be how the atheist community
is to access aid, without having to be subject to the teachings of faith based groups that they may find objectionable.
In a ruling over draft
exemptions The Supreme Court
defined religion as "a sincere
and meaningful belief occupying in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by God
of those admittedly qualified for exemption". This is a rather vague view of religion that doesn't seem to match that of the Bush presidency. Bush has also stated that the government
would do nothing to hinder the teaching of a faith in the process of these community services. It seems that millions of Americans
without religion, or who belong to faiths which lack significant representation
or oranization to form programs of their own are going to be left high and dry. It remains to be seen, however, how this Office will impact the funding on non-faith based charities operating in the US.