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Faith-Based Initiative

So I've started reading Plastic, a Web site which is something like Slashdot without the technology focus. Most of the stuff that gets posted there I don't care all that much about, but today someone posted a link to a New York Times story about holes already appearing President Bush's faith-based-initiative program.

I must bite my tongue very firmly and not say "I told you so." I've been trying not to say anything against the idea, being—as many liberals are, I suspect—carefully noncommittal, not wanting to seem too eager for the Boy Wonder to make his first mistake. I have to admit, though, this news sent a little frisson of happiness down my spine with the suggestion that the honeymoon may be over.

It's not terribly mature, I'll admit that. People like Dan Perkins never tire of pointing out that Clinton never really was more than a sad excuse for a left-winger, but now that he's out of office he seems more determined to be an embarassment than he was during his presidency. We would like something nice, new, juicy—and Republican—to replace the lingering sourness of the Clintonian denouemont.

I wouldn't be sorry if this did the trick. Apparently Bush has been rather taken aback by the fact that non-traditional faiths are interested in his new partnership notion—like the Scientologists, the Moonies, and the Nation of Islam.

I actually didn't think this would happen. A number of my friends' first reactions were "Oh yeah, what's he gonna do when the Wiccans want money?", but I suspected Wiccans are incapable of being that organized. Fortunately or unfortunately, other non-mainstream-religions have the people-power to put together programs that are perfect for some faith-based government assistance, at least until you look at the people running them. (Frankly, the thought of my personal tax money going to the Scientologists gives me the twitches—literacy programs my eye.)

According to the article, the Jewish Anti-Defamation League has already had words with the program head, Mr. DiIulio, regarding the funding of any Nation programs, and received assurances that they had nothing to worry about in that regard. Which is nice for them, but once you've excluded one religion because someone else doesn't like their attitude, there's no reason to stop....

I just can't see them pulling it off, that this can be done in a way both fair and acceptable to the public. Once it becomes clear that fairness involves giving money not just to the blameless mainstream but to the Everlasting Reign of Satan Drug Rehab Program, it might not look like such a good idea.

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© 2000 Rebecca J. Stevenson