The Grace Youth and Family Foundation’s Winter Relief Center is Butler County’s (PA) only homeless shelter.
If the Bureaucrats of Butler County (wait for it on DVD) have their way, the homeless will have no refuge there this winter.
The winter relief center, an explicitly Christian charity, is facing the possible loss of public grants days before it is set to open its doors on November 1 for this year’s cold season.
Because it is a Christian ministry. Yes, it’s that simple. And that infuriating.
Turns out that the contract the government sent over would force the ministry to promise to abandon the very faith that inspired its largely volunteer service as a condition for receiving generally-available public resources. The ministry would have to promise to employ people who oppose the teachings of its Christian faith in order to feed and clothe the downtrodden and save them from freezing to death.
You see, one must adopt the government’s religion of Totolerance (you know, “Totalitarian Tolerance”) in order to have equal access to public resources. Not sure how different all this is than the forced conversions, pinches of incense, and public renunciations of faith of times (we thought) passed.
Let’s leave aside for now arguments over whether the government should be subsidizing such work or whether Christian ministries should put themselves in the position of at least partial dependence on state largesse.
The key question here is whether the government can force faith-based organizations to make such a choice. Public resources shouldn’t come with unconstitutional strings attached. The government can’t force religious charities to conform to the government’s belief system in order to access public resources if we are to remain a free and just society.
If the government succeeds here, we will be a more intolerant and hostile society that will even marginalize people who sacrifice to serve the most marginalized. Remember the insanity of those commercials that insisted Paul Ryan’s policy preferences were the equivalent of wheeling an old lady off a cliff? Well, the government-enforced bigotry faced by Grace Youth and Family Foundation may literally and almost immediately leave homeless people out in the cold.
You know what’s even worse about all this? The county came looking for Grace Youth and Family Foundation to serve the homeless during the winter months. Why?
As Janine Kennedy, director of Butler County Community Action office, said, “It’s public-private partnerships like this that are going to make the difference in our community. Government can’t do it alone. We need the help of the community.”
Private charities have succeeded in countless communities where government has failed. That is why government at multiple levels has sought public-private partnerships. Private charities are just better than sluggish bureaucrats at helping people. These ministries shouldn’t be forced by the same government that came begging for their service to abandon the very beliefs that inspire that service.
I’m sure that the faith of the folks at Grace Youth and Family Foundation will be stirred, not shaken, by this trial, but it can’t hurt to help them as they look forward to another winter of helping the hurting. Here is a where you can go to make a tax-deductible donation.