Faith in service

I found Lauren Kornutick’s comments in her Feb. 1 Forum article, “Keep taxes out of church,” to be incendiary and offensive. To suggest that President George W. Bush is “promoting tyranny” with his faith-based initiatives program is completely illogical and a gross misinterpretation of the program’s objectives.

The reality is that the president acknowledges that there are serious problems facing our country and that bureaucracy and federal programs may not always be the answer. Faith-based charities and community service programs already assist thousands of Americans in need. Allowing these organizations to apply for federal funding to expand their programs would benefit thousands more.

The money would be targeted not to evangelize or promote a specific religion but to reach out to those in need and give them the option of faith-based help. If the initiative is passed, aid will go to help diverse religious organizations – not simply “right wing, evangelical churches” as Ms. Kornutick incorrectly asserts. The government cannot and will not discriminate against programs that are not Christian.

I also find fault with her adamant contention that religion has no place in our country. While it is absolutely true that under the First Amendment the federal government cannot institute a national church or oppress religious groups based on their beliefs, the ferocity with which some reject the genuine positive influence faith can have on our society is unsettling. The Founding Fathers’ decisions guaranteed that ours would be a tolerant nation of diverse religious beliefs. The faith of our people – be they Catholic, Jewish or Muslim – is an aspect of our country that should be embraced and nurtured, not feared.

Most Americans, myself included, do not view churches and synagogues as grim specters of religious oppression lying in wait to persecute those who do not share their beliefs. We need to recognize their place in our country and help them in their secular philanthropic efforts as much as possible without violating the First Amendment – something that Bush’s plan achieves.

-Sarah Wurrey

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