Faith-based Services here and abroad

September 27th, 2003

To the Editor,

Our administration has used both monetary woes and ideological rationalizations (abortion issues) to restrict provision of secular government aid to other countries. This appears to have some interesting “unexpected” benefits to other portions of their agendas.

It works well as a means of avoiding “competition” with missionary efforts if those become the sole source of aid to desperate persons. Hunger and illness are vectors for the spread of religion when the recipients of aid must take it along with food and medication as a package deal. Free choice is the difference between religion and inquisition.

The same is going on here at home. With shrinking or nonexistent federal contributions to states crying out for assistance in providing entitlement services, the religious sector will be expected to serve the need. Except the religious sector is not mandated to do so in an even handed way.

I was homeless this past summer when contamination of my apartment with an illegal pesticide (Dursban) drove me to live in my car (incident currently under EPA investigation). I could not go to a shelter since they too, spray pesticides and I cannot tolerate them. County services told me to seek aid from religious groups…except that none served this need and I was turned away by multiple philanthropic agencies like the Federation and Catholic Charities as well as many individual churches and synagogues.

However all wished me luck and some offered to pray for me. And assured me that the county was mandated to provide those services I needed.

Is prayer to replace concrete services for the needy as an equally effective intervention?

Categories: NY Times

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