John Dilulio is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and the first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Dilulio is the author of Godly Republic: A Centrist Blueprint for America's Faith-Based Future.
The following questions and answers are from an interview of Dilulio by Paul Hughes and Madison Trammel at Christianity Today, 2/21/2008.
Will the White House's faith-based initiative survive this administration?
It should. [Current] presidential candidates share a constitutionally sound, faith-friendly, social-policy vision not unlike the one that both President George W. Bush and Vice President Gore preached in 1999 and 2000.
You're against giving government dollars to agencies with behavioral codes and Christian-only hiring policies. Why?
If you are [suggesting] we ought to enlarge the ministerial exemption in civil-rights law to give religious nonprofits a right to discriminate against tax-funded employees on religious grounds, then I would urge caution. To level the playing field does not mean to tilt it in favor of religious nonprofits. Besides, most community-serving religious nonprofits, including ones led by Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, do not demand any such exemption or constitutional carte blanche.
Is there any evidence to suggest that religious providers of social services are more effective than secular providers?
There is no empirical evidence [showing] that programs that promote spiritual transformation are more likely to succeed. We can say that urban faith-based groups typically deliver better services at a lower per-capita cost.
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Comments by Kent:
Faith-based initiatives are, in my short summary, a plan to allow religious, non-profit groups to be conduits of the welfare state. It all sounds so good to some Christians: “we” get to get money from the government to help people.
It’s all so lovely, “centrist” and thus middle-of-the road. But those in the middle of the road are more likely to be run down by the on-coming traffic of reality. Because the Biblical reality is this: the welfare state is not Godly, and it’s not Christian.
It is contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the Christian faith to confiscate people’s property for redistribution. It doesn’t matter how good the motives (they are often very good) or how good the results (they are often very bad). There is an insurmountable moral problem in the taking.
Why is it so hard for twenty-first century Christians to understand that, while it is blessed to give, it is only blessed if what you are giving was not stolen from someone else?
Why do so many Christians today so easily succumb to the doctrine of demons which teaches that the end always justifies the means when it comes to “helping the needy”?
Why do people who would never think of robbing their neighbors at gunpoint to fund the local soup kitchen think it is noble to vote to have agents of the government pull off that little hold-up on their behalf?
It is not the faith of faith-based initiatives that is bad - it is the welfare-state mentality of which they are a part. So the so-called faith-based initiatives should not survive this administration, because they contradict one of the most fundamental tenants of the Christian faith: thou shalt not steal.
Beyond this, Christian advocacy of the welfare state is self-defeating. Notice something that comes out clearly in this interview: welfare state funds will not be traveling through groups with “behavioral codes and Christian-only hiring policies.”
Why do Christians want to jump on this kind of self-defeating approach? A dismantled welfare state would mean Christian funds able to flow freely through overtly Christian channels. Wouldn’t that be much better than the so-called “faith based” welfare state approach?
The welfare state is both a moral and a practical failure. Christians should be busy opposing its very existence, not playing patsy to it. The beast should be killed, not fed - especially by those who take the Christian faith seriously.