This spring, the presidential races have seen several comments and pledges regarding the expansion of President Bush’s current faith-based initiatives program. Providing Federal funds to faith-based organizations is not a black and white issue. Many would reasonably argue that if money is already being spent, shouldn’t it be spent in the best way possible? But Christians and conservatives must be careful before eagerly embracing this idea.
When faith based organizations accept government money, they are not allowed to seek to convert others in any way, provide religious instruction, hire based on religion, or use funds for any program or initiative that could potentially have a religious purpose.
Are these regulations fair? When the government is funding an organization, it has the right to place restrictions on how those funds are used. There are always strings attached. We need to wrestle with the question of whether the money is worth this loss of autonomy.
The good works of faith-based organizations stem from their religious convictions. These groups must consider that accepting government money may force them to attempt positive social impact without their faith-based foundation. Perhaps faith-based organizations should say “Thanks, but no thanks” to federal funds.