This WaPo article detailing a FEMA proposal to compensate churches for their hurricane relief work (only when it was undertaken at the request of state or local goernment) canvasses the usual issues, but also contains a couple of interesting nuggets.
When Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, religious charities rushed in to provide emergency services, often acting more quickly and efficiently than the government. Relief workers in the stricken states estimate that 500,000 people have taken refuge in facilities run by religious groups.
While we can argue about whether the governments (notice the plural) set an adequate standard of speed and efficiency, this is nonetheless a remarkable statement that provides evidence to support the Presidents claims about the faith-based initiative.
Then theres this from Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State:
"The good news is that this work is being done now, but I dont think a lot of people realize that a lot of these organizations are actively working to obtain federal funds. Thats a strange definition of charity," he said.
Does the man not realize that many charities--like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army--are also big-time government contractors? Federal, state, and local money helps expand the scope of their works, with contract and reimbursement dollars supplementing private contributions and enhancing volunteer efforts. Lynns statement--about which he cant be serious (or if he is, hes living in some alternate universe)--envisions a world in which the government does not contract out any of its social services or does so only with for-profit contractors. That would revolutionize--and cripple--the delivery of social services in this country.