Thursday, January 19, 2006

How Bush administration rewards right-wing religious supporters: $$$

The Virginian Pilot (via the AJC) reports on the amazing growth of federally funded religious programs--and don't tell me Pat Robertson's group doesn't proselytize: "When President Bush launched his 'faith-based initiative' in 2001 to funnel federal money to religious groups, the Rev. Pat Robertson was skeptical, calling the idea a 'Pandora's box' and a 'narcotic' that would ensnare religious organizations in government red tape.

Those misgivings notwithstanding, the federal government has become a major source of money for Operation Blessing, Robertson's international charity, under the Bush initiative. In two years, the group's annual revenue from government grants has ballooned from $108,000 to $14.4 million.

Critics worry that the president's program, which directed more than $2 billion to religious groups nationwide in 2004, is subsidizing evangelistic activity and religious discrimination in hiring.

Operation Blessing says it adheres carefully to federal guidelines designed to safeguard church-state separation and uses the grants for humanitarian relief, not evangelism.

Regardless, the charity's booming federal aid offers a case study in how Washington is channeling money to religious groups at an unprecedented pace and loosening some long-standing restrictions on how they spend it."


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