Left Behinds

The anti-andrewsullivan.com. Or, the Robin Hood (Maid Marian?) of bright pink Blogger blogs.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I have a very specific, very practical question.

How are we ever going to get churches off the public tit now?

Actually, that's the wrong question. We won't.

As detailed by Bruce Wilson, the author of the excellent article at the other end of that link, the "faith-based" initiative that was kicked off to such fanfare early in George Bush's first term has mushroomed without much fanfare at all.

The federal government awarded more than $2 billion in such grants in 2004 -- nearly double the amount awarded in 2003.

$2 billion. I'm sure it's gone up since then. As Wilson makes clear, the money is in large part going to bigoted groups on the political right. As he doesn't make as clear, the money is also being used to buy political loyalty, as seems to be the case with such figures as T.D. Jakes.

You want to know why they call Rove a political genius? It's not because of the smear campaigns. That just takes a tiny amount of creativity and a lack of morals. It's because of shit like this. He's created another third rail of politics.

Karl Rove came into office with the intention of cementing a Republican majority for a long time, remember. Just think about the outcry if any politician ever suggests cutting back on these funds. Think about the mobilization churches are capable of. Think about the loyalty you can buy with $2 billion in small grants (with little or no accounting oversight). Think about the outrage if religious groups that have been free to discriminate are suddenly forced to make nice to fags or be cut off. Think about the otherwise totally unnecessary fights Karl Rove has guaranteed we will be having for years and years.

I think the political landscape has been permanently changed. As much as I hate it, because of this initiative I think we are going to have to accommodate churches in politics for a long time--on the order of decades. As an atheist there's not much I can do about it, but I suggest to those of you who are part of religious communities that you think about trying to bring your politics to them and them into politics. The wall between church and state is effectively down, and the only way I can see to bring any parity back to politics in the long term is to get a lot more religions involved than the few narrow and narrow-minded sects currently running the show.

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  • At 12:25 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Yeah, I somehow doubt huge monies are being funneled to the Quakers.

  • At 3:03 PM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Yeah, I probably should have included that in the list of things this kind of money allows you to do: you can reward and make more powerful and mainstream those parts of the religious world that support your bullshit wars.

  • At 9:45 PM, Blogger Phoebe Evergreen said…

    Love your pic, AHB.

    Trick isn't to rescind the grants -- just tighten up the requirements, specifically vis-a-vis church-state (i.e. your church can have a non-profit that accepts grants, but it has to abide by nondiscrimination laws). Make sure you have enough institutions in place that are capable of the transition so you can rebut the charge that you're anti-Christian. They'll still shout it, but you can weather it.

  • At 11:19 PM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Good tip.

    Whose Simpsons incarnation is that, btw?

  • At 12:54 AM, Blogger Antid Oto said…

    Yes, that is clearly the way to fight the fight. But sometimes you just have to stand back and admire the brilliance of Rove's Machiavellian evil: it's not a fight we even imagined we'd have to be having five years ago, and it's one that will probably have to be refought over and over for a long time. And while it may indeed be possible to rebut the charge of being anti-Christian, it still costs something to have to rebut it, especially given a cowed, stupid news media that for now has totally bought the line that one political party owns all rights to religious sincerity. In other words, this is an unnecessary fight that hurts us simply by the fact of its being fought, though we may be able to limit the damage and win it in the end.

    The Simpsons avatar is via the Simpsomaker.

  • At 1:12 AM, Blogger Solomon Grundy said…

    Strength sapping. Yes, Rove is The Beast.

    Btw, I love that you're Claggert in your profile. I'm content to be stupid, pretty Billy.


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