Worthy Christian News » Christian » Faith-Based Compromise?
by Berit Kjos
For background information, see
Reinventing the World
The 21st Century Church
The U.N. Plan for Your Community
"A politics of community can be strengthened when we are not afraid to make the connections between spirituality and politics." Al Gore who also touted faith-based partnerships. Senator again urges expanded role for religion in social service programs
"Bush and his aides moved to downplay the religious component, emphasizing the proposal's overall purpose: boosting communities and civil society." Bush Unveils 'Faith-Based' Initiative
"Partnerships and collaborative decision making must be encouraged and must involve all levels of government, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, community groups and the public at large." Sustainable America: A New Consensus (President's Council on Sustainable Development, 1996). Emphasis added
President Bush's tempting vision of faith-based partnerships fits into a global government scheme that extends far beyond Christian service. His offer of federal funding to help the poor may sound compassionate, but it would speed the implementation of a massive new management system that would force every person to conform to invasive top-down standards and regulations. What's more, it doesn't work.
An Oregon administrator, Linda Warncke, illustrates a major problem:
"After 8 years directing the local food-share program as a faith-based charity, I closed it down.
"It was frustrating to be compelled to serve increasing numbers of applicants without being able to verify the information they were supplying in order to qualify. Some time ago (two years, maybe) we were instructed by the regional distribution agency and Oregon Food Bank that we could not ask for verification. At the same time we were serving more people who were not involuntarily in hardship or who were misrepresenting their income status, we were suddenly getting more cases of food from USDA and encouraged that "The more you distribute, the more you will get." This seemed generous on the part of the government at first, but became quite labor intensive for the volunteers.
Food stamp recipients must prove their income status, but food box recipients and free-lunch recipients have no such requirement. Obviously more people apply for food boxes than apply for food stamps. The press touts this as an indication of more need, but it may be simply because the food is available and you don't have to establish need in order to access it.
The food-box application forms have information/statistics-gathering questions to be filled in by the applicants, but without any verification there is no guarantee any of the information is valid. Yet this same information is used by the regional, state, and federal agencies to support their contentions of "need". I don't wish to imply that there are no genuine needs but that these get lost in the fray of such an open invitation to misrepresent.
Our oversight board began to question the value of continuing to operate our food pantry because of political misrepresentations and the encouragement to socialistic-type dependencies under the guise of 'need'.
"At the time we closed our doors, there seemed to be plenty of work-opportunity for any who wanted to work. I had felt heart-sick for some time prior to this closing because it seemed that volunteers were doing more and more for increasing numbers of people who wanted to do less and less and the political pressure was building to escalate the system into overdrive.
"It became more and more apparent that when USDA and government money are involved, you work essentially for them. The volunteers become a vast unpaid labor force which is a convenient conduit for agricultural subsidies and non-profit bureaucracies. The private non-profits have a stake in escalating the system in their favor beause they have paid administration staff who make a living this way. I was receiving continual "Hunger Advocacy" political propaganda through the state and regional agencies, much of which seemed to be distorted information...."  more
Marketed by Republicans as Compassionate Conservativism or New Federalism, this system is neither compassionate nor conservative. And it makes a mockery of the "Federalism" established by the founders of this nation.
Liberal leaders around the world are more honest. They call it The Third Way, Communitarianism, The New Middle or neo-socialism -- and they are right. It is socialism, and it will control states as well as local communities through evolving partnerships and standards. The terms and the strings will continually change as our leaders adapt them to the demands of the national-international agenda.
The greatest danger comes from the misleading phrases and deceptive promises. The program called "faith-based partnerships" is not based on faith in God's Word. It's a top-down government-based strategy likely to distort faith, manipulate truth, undermine efficient and personal Christian service, and silence the gospel among those who most need to hear it.
The meaning of charity
Many years ago I found a heart-breaking poem in a tattered old book. It tells a tragic but familiar tale. Titled "The Church Walking with the World," it first describes the lovely bride of the King, whose heart was pure and filled with His self-giving love because her eyes were fixed on the promised Bridegroom. A string of verses show tempting visions, the timeless compromise, the seduction to materialism and the growing lust for all kinds of thrills and relationships. Finally,
...the sons of the World and the Sons of the Church
Walked closely hand and heart,
And only the Master, who knoweth all,
Could tell the two apart.,
Then the Church sat down at her ease, and said,
"I am rich and my goods increase;
I have need for nothing, or aught to do,
But to laugh and dance and feast."
The sly World heard, and he laughed in his sleeve,
And mockingly said, aside--
"The Church is fallen, the beautiful Church,
And her shame is her boast and her pride."
While the poem doesn't address the specific deception we face, it does describe how the Church is seduced and tempted to compromise. "Your lot is a lot of woe," argues the World as it offers to help. "There's room enough for you and me, To travel side by side."
That was bad counsel. It didn't take long before the Church had switched its devotion from God to the World. It soon sought its "health" and wealth from a manipulative and limited source, and stopped trusting the sovereign King of the universe. In the end, the poor and broken no longer touched her blinded heart. (See Romans 1:24-32)
"Government charity is an oxymoron," wrote Paul Proctor in his article "Faith-Based Organizations." It's true. Originally, the word "charity" referred to the self-giving love that comes from God: His love operating through His people. A government can't love, and it rarely shows mercy unless such a demonstration serves political ambitions.
Christians are called to demonstrate love for the poor -- not just the best of human friendship and generosity, but God's own unconditional, self-giving agape (charity) love. As a church, we have often fallen short. Sometimes the caring ministries of non-Christians put us to shame. But the purpose of the church is not simply to meet physical needs in the community, but to bring the poor and broken to Jesus Christ -- and, in the process, giving honor to Him who alone can satisfy their deepest needs. This purpose involves three actions that must not be compromised by government rules:
Demonstrate God's love by offering truth as well as provisions.
Bring people to Jesus through prayer and testimonies of His goodness.
Praise God together, giving Him the credit and thanks He deserves -- and that we need to express in order to grow faithful and strong in Him.
Committed Christians cannot approve government conditions that would limit our freedom to share God's Word along with the wealth He gives us. "We must obey God rather than man," said Peter two thousand years ago. Since then, the willingness of Christian missionaries to give their lives, possessions and comforts to serve God in some of the world's most hostile places -- and in spite of government opposition -- shines as a testimony to the power of His love and grace.
As a result, America has been known as the most generous nation on earth. God prospered our land, and His people shared the bounty. Long before the United Nations began its service programs, Christians built hospitals, schools and shelters where people were healed, fed and comforted. They have changed the lives of countless broken, hurting and despairing people around the world, giving them hope in the midst of despair. Small wonder our government wants to tap into these proven -- though misunderstood -- triumphs.
"When... I give [a poor man] something, I am doing something good. On the other hand, when the city authorities send me a tax bill to help the poor and needy, it becomes my duty to pay. 'n this type of 'giving', I no longer exercise a virtue.... Forced "charity" is not charity at all, but a duty. This is the basic error of all socialist and community plans to produce a paradise on earth....
"Real works of love and true charity are abolished as soon as the basis of free-will offering is removed. The socialist and communist state becomes a loveless, virtueless institution....
"The exercise of any virtue ennobles and enriches the character, giving real joy and radiance to the one who exercises.... Life in a socialist state, which allows no freedom of action but controls every facet of life, generally robs its citizens of virtue and strength of character.... The result is often that the personnel of such institutions, instead of creating an atmosphere of love, are as cold and devoid of love as the concrete blocks of the walls which surround them.[See how the SSD treats Marcedes]
"The modern socialist world tends to suppress just these character-building elements by adopting a false humanitarian attitude ('free' provision for every need 'from the cradle to the grave')... A consequence is that even fewer men will possess the strength of character necessary to be ready and willing to suffer for conscience's sake in resisting the totalitarian demands of the socialist state."
A. E. Wilder-Smith, Why Does God Allow It?! (Costa Mesa CA: TWFT Publishers, 1980), page 25-30.
At the National Prayer Breakfast soon after his inauguration, President Bush shared his hope that faith-based charities become government partners as an alternative to government "resenting them as rivals." That's a strange comparison when you consider that government is for and by the people. It was never intended to be a separate entity competing with the people.
I wonder how well President Bush understands the risks and threats behind his system of partnerships? He seems to think that the church will serve the government's social agenda rather than the opposite. But history has proven that government "welfare" programs tend to perpetuate themselves, assume a life of their own, become increasingly captivated by their own authority, and gain ever rising control over "partners" they fund.
Government strings tied to federal promises
A Baptist agency in Kentucky provides shelter and love to abused and neglected children. But it has also accepted public funds. Since the government regulations tied to federal funding forbid discrimination in hiring practices, the agency has been sued by an openly gay woman who claims she was fired because of her sexual preference.
ABCNews.com, the source of the above story, has exposed similar trouble in Texas. Apparently a faith-based job-training program which included a Bible study raised allegations of "improper use of government money." So did a drug program in Wisconsin which used a Christian 12-step program.
A tangled web of federal regulations defines the links between Government funding and non-government recipients. Most of those regulations are based on the Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987. It mandates that any institution or agency that receives federal assistance must comply with non-discrimination laws that apply to the entire institution.
President Bush has promised to loosen some of those strings. To the growing White House bureaucracy, he has added an Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. It will work with new offices in five Cabinet agencies -- Education, Health and Human Services, Labor, Justice and Housing -- to ease unpopular rules and boost funding for charities. He is also strengthening President Clinton's costly AmeriCorps and the Corporation for National Service, the governing center for such volunteer programs.
"Basics of Bush Faith Initiative"
"More Tax Deductions Allows charitable deductions for 80 million taxpayers who do not currently itemize; allows charitable contributions from IRAs without penalty and a $500-per-person state tax credit for poverty-related donations....
"New Offices Fund Creates new offices in the White House and five Cabinet departments to encourage cooperation between government and religious groups; creates a "Compassion Capital Fund" with private and federal funds to help small community and faith-based charities apply for grants.
"Expanding Charitable Choice Expands "charitable choice" to allow religious groups to receive funding for a variety of social programs, including providing services for children of prison inmates, improving inmate rehabilitation and setting up group maternity homes and after-school programs for low-income children; removes governmental obstacles for faith-based groups applying for funding."
From Faithful Giving: Will Bush Plan to Support Faith Charities Work?
While President Bush would limit government regulations, he has not offered to revoke the Civil Rights Restoration Act -- the basic legal concern. And some comments from Washington insiders indicate that this "easing" may not remove enough "government obstacles" to allow religious freedom of expression.
Charitable choice, a 1966 law first introduced to Congress by then-Senator John Ashcroft, "prohibits the groups from proselytizing or using government money to fund religious activities," according to abcNEWS.com, "but it does allow the faith charities to restrict hiring to employees of a certain faith and keep religious symbols on the walls."
"Government, of course, cannot fund and will not fund religious activities," said the President on January 30, 2001, with Senator Lieberman standing at his side. "But when people of faith provide social services, we will not discriminate against them."
"It is going to be a rocky road," said constitutional lawyer Carl Esbeck. "It is a new path. There are going to be some curves and potholes in the road." 
Using "partnerships" to mold the 21st Century "Civil Society"
Not only does government funding for Christian service sound compassionate and meet needs, it also serves a more subtle purpose of our 21st Century government. It helps establish the community links needed for the new "seamless" management system and social solidarity. The Washington Post article, Bush Unveils 'Faith-Based' Initiative, described it well:
The gestures were part of Bush's "faith-based initiative"... designed to allow religious charities to administer services -- for the poor, addicted and disadvantaged -- previously dominated by government agencies. Though the proposals drew immediate criticism from groups concerned about maintaining separation of church and state, Bush and his aides moved to downplay the religious component, emphasizing the proposal's overall purpose: boosting communities and civil society." [emphasis added]
While the American Civil Liberties Union and other First Amendment groups opposed the measure, other leaders from both sides of the political spectrum applauded. "This is a great day for civic renewal in this country," said former senator Harris Wofford (D-Pa.), while House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) praised the initiative for showing "That government can play a partnership role in helping America become a more civil society, but that it does not have to be the only partner."
In his 1998 State of the Union address, President Clinton described it in simpler terms:
"We all cherish family and faith.... We must work together, learn together, live together, and serve together. On the forge of common enterprise, Americans of all backgrounds can hammer out a common identity.... With shared values, honest communication, and citizen service, we can unite a diverse people...."
Clinton's message points to the network of partnerships needed to mold and monitor a civil society with "a common identity." The last sentence refers to the contents or heart of that system: the (dialectic) consensus process. Used in the Soviet union to indoctrinate Soviet children with a unifying ideology, it has become a requirement in our schools, government, health and other business, and in the churches caught up in the "church growth" movement.
It's all part of the new "civil society" or "participatory democracy," which must engage every person of every age in the consensus process. In fact, solidarity or "social capital" -- the worth of a community, is measured by public participation in the new civil society.
This social capital must be monitored, measured and remediated when it falls short of national standards. According to Sustainable America: A New Consensus, the primary report from the President's [Clinton] Council on Sustainable Development (which like over 150 similar national councils work together to implement the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Development), everyone must be engaged in dialogue which is central to the new solidarity. [See Brainwashing and "Education Reform")
New indicators must be developed to measure:
SOCIAL CAPITAL Increase in citizen engagement and public trust....
CITIZEN PARTICIPATION Increase in community participation in such civic activities as professional and service organizations.... and volunteer work.
COLLABORATIONS Increased use of successful civic collaborations such as public-private partnerships, community-based planning, goal-setting projects, and consensus-building efforts. [page 20]
Take a leadership role in the development and implementation of global sustainable development policies, standards of conduct, and trade and foreign policies.... [page 22]
IMPROVING NATIONAL INCOME ACCOUNTS
The United States... needs to generate better tools for measuring the public value--including the economic value-- of the things that are important to the nation... While national indicators of public well-being will never be capable of measuring all factors fully, such as measuring the cultural and spiritual wealth of a society, they will proved better measures and fuller information on which to base choices.... [page 67]
Sustainable America (President's Council on Sustainable Development, 1996)
Human capital -- the worth of the individuals in the community -- must be measured as well. And in the facilitated consensus group setting, a person's views would be documented, their ideas challenged, their values compromised, and their minds molded to fit group consensus. Those who refuse to conform to the new standards for cooperation and mental health would be tracked through the fast-growing federal data banks. (See Mental Health)
Which standards do we choose?
The standards for 21st Century spirituality are outlined in UNESCOâ€™s 1994 â€œDeclaration on the role of religion in the promotion of a culture of peace.â€ The key points were listed in our article Conforming the Church to the New Millennium, but it might be helpful to repeat a few points. Notice that it begins by emphasizing a crisis. Such "crisis management" is vital to the new global system and its persuasive propaganda:
â€œPeace entails that we understand that we are all interdependentâ€¦. collectively responsible for the common good.â€
â€œOur communities of faith have a responsibility to encourage conduct imbued with wisdom, compassion, sharing, charity, solidarity, and love... Religions must be a source of helpful energy.â€
â€œWe will favor peace by countering the tendencies of individuals and communities to assume or even to teach that they are inherently superior to others.â€
â€œWe will promote dialogue and harmony between and within religionsâ€¦."
â€œWe call upon the institutions of our civil society... to strengthen their commitments to peace and to listen to the cries of the victimsâ€¦.â€
"We call upon the different religious and cultural traditions to join handsâ€¦ and to cooperate with usâ€¦.â€ [Emphasis added]
"Cooperate" in globalist means consensus. To make sure everyone will cooperate, the UN and its globalist partners around the world have created a system designed to force everyone into groups where they can participate in their community -- on the world's terms.
God's standards are radically different. He tells us to
Care for the needy: Jesus said, "... love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great... Be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful." Luke 6:27-36 But -
Guard against binding contracts: "You shall make no covenant with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against Me. For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you." Exodus 23:32-33
Demonstrate God's love and give Him the credit: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16
Start with the family of God: "For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward." Mark 9:41
Let nothing hinder God's message in and through you: "...always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness...." 1 Peter 3:13-17
Serve God, not the world: "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'" Acts 13:2
Reach out to equip disciples: Jesus said, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20
Always acknowledge that God is the source of strength and wisdom: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5
In his article, "Doling out Charity," Michael Tanner summarizes the threats to our faith and to our ministries:
Government standards and regulations intended to ensure accountability and quality care are attached to government grants and contracts.... That means government regulators will be snooping through their books, checking for compliance.... Officials of these charities may end up spending more time reading the Federal Register than the Bible.
Besides, why should faith-based charities eschew proselytizing and strictly religious functions? There is a reason for the faith in faith-based charities. These organizations believe that helping people requires more than food or a bed. It requires addressing deeper spiritual needs. It is about God. Yet, in the end, Mr. Bush's proposal may transform private charities from institutions that change people's lives to providers of services a government program in a clerical collar. Call it compassionate big government conservatism.
There is a more profound threat to the identity and mission of these charities. If the history of welfare proves anything, it is that government money is as addictive as any narcotic. Ironically, therefore, given that many private charities are dedicated to fighting welfare dependency, government funding may quickly become a source of dependency for the charities themselves.
"It is painful to see families who work full-time not be able to earn enough to support themselves," writes Linda Warncke. "It is also painful to see the Federal Reserve raise interest rates because the minimum wage is increased, and wipe out any gain the low-rung folks may get. It is also painful to be giving out free food to individuals who misrepresent their income status in order to get a 'freebie'."
"What would be great," she concludes, "is if neighbors would care for neighbors and family members would help support the people in their own families that have need or adverse circumstances. But what motivation is there to do this when the government and the convenient volunteer labor force find it noble to plug everyone in to a federal nipple?"
God tells His people, not the state, to carry out His mission of love to the world. His work must be done in His name, not in the name of government partners. Scriptures such as 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 may sound intolerant to the world, but then God never did mold His messages to satisfy the wants of human nature. That's why His way in this world is still narrow and rocky, full of timeless stumbling blocks. But there is no other way to reap the blessings in ministry that offers those who are willing to bypass compromising partnerships and place our trust in Jesus Christ, the sovereign King of the universe. Therefore
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?... For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said:
'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate,' says the Lord."