I was in the mood for some good old-fashioned theocracy this past weekend. With a trip to Iran well beyond my budget, I turned to Mike Huckabee. He didn’t disappoint, chatting up the evils of that darned separation of church and state on his FOX talk show with former Nixon aide Chuck Colson.
The duo attacked the prospect of the Obama Administration’s new White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships reversing Bush’s policy of allowing religious organizations that receive government funding to discriminate by only hiring people of the same faith.
Colson argued that his own organization, Prison Fellowship, doesn’t “have anything to give people except Christ. Nothing else. Nothing else is going to change people’s lives.” If that’s really the case (and what reason do I have to doubt the organization’s founder?), then Prison Fellowship shouldn’t have received federal money even under Bush’s faith-based initiative, which explicitly banned grant-receiving groups from proselytizing.
Colson claims that the content is what makes PF effective, but since its content is the Christian faith (featuring the motto: “Changing Minds, Lives and Communities through Jesus Christ”), the organization has no constitutional grounds for accepting taxpayer money. He’s basically saying that the program wouldn’t work if Judaism, Hinduism, Taoism or any other non-Christian religion was taught.
Therefore, they argue, such groups must be allowed to discriminate in hiring. If Colson, et al. absolutely must continue their discrimination, then it shouldn’t be with taxpayer dollars.
This whole debate dodges the bigger issue: should a faith-based office even exist? For me, the answer is a resounding ‘no.’ I don’t want to see any of my tax dollars being funneled into religious organizations, Christian or otherwise.