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Federal funding of faith-based charities is wrong

By Tom DeWeese
web posted May 21, 2001

As with many of President George W. Bush's proposals, the intent may be pure, but the reality is unsound. So it is with his proposal to provide federal funds to "faith-based" charities.

It is a noble idea to assist their efforts in helping the needy. Anyone who has been a member of a church group, a civic or service club over the past few decades is aware that it has become harder for these groups to get involved in charity work.

Many tasks once regularly carried out by private groups found themselves subject to government regulations that soon made the private efforts impossible. Church soup kitchens, charity housing and eye-wear programs are just a few of the causes that were once handled by private organizations, but now are controlled as the result of government intrusion.

In addition, because of the perception that government was handling the problem, people tended not to give money to charities, paying taxes instead. Today, many churches and private charities find their coffers empty, not because people aren't charitable, but because of government involvement requiring higher taxation.

The time is long overdue get the government out of these and many more programs. Let private organizations handle them. Private volunteers will perform their tasks more efficiently and with greater love and care for the recipients. The taxpayer's burden will be eased and the once-strong commitment to community will be restored.

Do not give these organizations federal (or state, or local) tax dollars because public funds totally corrupt the process. Fill the local church's coffers with tax dollars and their budgets become totally dependent on federal funding thereafter.

Not only does government not do things well, it is an open invitation to fraud and waste!

The federal government buries fund recipients under a ton of paper work and regulations in return for the money in the name of protecting the taxpayer.

This requires a fulltime staff to manage the paper work. One-time volunteers suddenly need salaries. And then they'll need lobbyists in Washington to assure the funds keep flowing. Then will come the lawyers. Federal funds in the pockets of private groups provide the way for government to invade them, and determine their policies. The lines between private and government agencies disappear.

Government will grow bigger while the private sector shrinks ever smaller. In short, the funding of "faith-based" charities will only do what government money always does, destroy the very system it sets out to "fix" or "help".

Once the system is in place, future administrations, potentially as corrupt as the recent Clinton Administration, will control the flow of money to those charities that agree to play ball with its policies. Big city political machines have used these methods for years to assure voter registration and intimidation. The likes of Jesse Jackson and his ilk will figure out how to grow even richer on the system.

Most important of all, it is morally wrong to force the taking of tax dollars from the pockets of American citizens in order to funnel it to a private charity that a taxpayer may not want to support. Leave the money in the taxpayer's pocket by cutting taxes. Then let the taxpayers voluntarily give it to the charity of their choice. History shows they will do just that.

Let's do all we can to encourage private organizations to perform those tasks, but let them raise their own funds and pay their own way. As in any free market operation the good ones will find the private funding they need and the bad ones will disappear. Government, as it should, will grow smaller and more efficient when it no longer needs to deal with charity and welfare issues, creating yet another massive bureacracy in the process.

One hopes that is President Bush's true intent, but this proposal will achieve just the opposite!

Tom DeWeese is the publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report, a monthly newsletter about public issues. He is president of the American Policy Center, an activist, grassroots think tank. The Center maintains an Internet site at www.americanpolicy.org. (c) Tom DeWeese, 2001

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • Public money for private charity? by Lawrence W. Reed (May 21, 2001)
    Bush's funding of faith-based charities reminds him of what happened in 324 when Emperor Constantine began subsidizing Christian priests and churches. The problem? Emperor Julian in 361
  • Faith-based subsidies: Will they save or damn our Republic? by Steve Farrell (February 5, 2001)
    Steve Farrell takes a look at the funding of faith-based charities through the filter of the "Are we a republic or a democracy?" filter

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