Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Sell Your Souls or the Homeless Folks Are Gonna Get It

 

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.

Why?

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.

There are 20 comments.

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  1. Tim H. Member

    I hope they stand up to the county. Don’t compromise on this. Hopefully, they’ll be able to raise what money they need privately. Maybe that would even show up the government and give some spine to other groups.

    • #1
    • October 31, 2015, at 6:07 PM PDT
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  2. Eric Hines Inactive

    They should contact the Liberty Institute.

    Eric Hines

    • #2
    • October 31, 2015, at 7:00 PM PDT
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  3. Nick Stuart Inactive

    Government money is the Devil’s candy for ministries. We have to learn how to do without it.

    • #3
    • October 31, 2015, at 7:29 PM PDT
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  4. RyanFalcone Member

    This won’t. fly in Butler County. That is Tea Party central in PA. Those folks are looking for a reason to break out the tar and feathers.

    • #4
    • October 31, 2015, at 7:50 PM PDT
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  5. iDad Inactive

    I don’t believe it. I have been assured that government has gotten smaller since the 1980s.

    • #5
    • October 31, 2015, at 7:56 PM PDT
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  6. The Reticulator Member

    Nick Stuart:Government money is the Devil’s candy for ministries. We have to learn how to do without it.

    And to do without it, we need to make government smaller so it doesn’t suck up such a large percentage of the GNP and so it will leave a little room for the private sector to operate.

    • #6
    • October 31, 2015, at 9:49 PM PDT
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  7. Israel P. Inactive

    Greg Scott: Here is a where you can go to make a tax-deductible donation.

    While it’s still tax-deductible.

    • #7
    • October 31, 2015, at 10:28 PM PDT
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  8. Profile Photo Member

    I grew up 25 minutes from there, and have worked in Butler on and off as a musician over the years, including this summer. I’m going to see what the word on the street is about this.

    I can’t believe the local people are standing for it, unless there’s more to this than meets the eye. I wonder if there is a local personality war going on – that’s a fine old western Pennsylvanian tradition.

    • #8
    • November 1, 2015, at 4:24 AM PST
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  9. Nick Stuart Inactive

    The Reticulator:

    Nick Stuart:Government money is the Devil’s candy for ministries. We have to learn how to do without it.

    And to do without it, we need to make government smaller so it doesn’t suck up such a large percentage of the GNP and so it will leave a little room for the private sector to operate.

    Yep. & I’m pretty sure that if churches & especially Pastors (housing allowance, car allowance, ability to opt out of Social Security, etc) didn’t get the tax breaks they get, we’d hear a lot more sermons about the unbiblical and confiscatory tax system we’ve stuck ourselves with.

    • #9
    • November 1, 2015, at 7:37 AM PST
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  10. The Reticulator Member

    Nick Stuart:

    The Reticulator:

    Nick Stuart:Government money is the Devil’s candy for ministries. We have to learn how to do without it.

    And to do without it, we need to make government smaller so it doesn’t suck up such a large percentage of the GNP and so it will leave a little room for the private sector to operate.

    Yep. & I’m pretty sure that if churches & especially Pastors (housing allowance, car allowance, ability to opt out of Social Security, etc) didn’t get the tax breaks they get, we’d hear a lot more sermons about the unbiblical and confiscatory tax system we’ve stuck ourselves with.

    Don’t forget the exemptions from local property taxes.

    • #10
    • November 1, 2015, at 11:29 AM PST
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  11. Z in MT Inactive

    Government money always comes with strings that ends up making things cost way more than they have to. I bet if the Christian ministry went back and looked at what giving up the grant means in flexibility they will be able to keep the warming center open on a fraction of the costs and won’t need the grant.

    • #11
    • November 1, 2015, at 11:57 AM PST
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  12. The Reticulator Member

    Z in MT:Government money always comes with strings that ends up making things cost way more than they have to. I bet if the Christian ministry went back and looked at what giving up the grant means in flexibility they will be able to keep the warming center open on a fraction of the costs and won’t need the grant.

    Not necessarily. The government has other ways to come and get you if it finds you are in competition. There have been places in which people have been prohibited from providing food to the homeless on account of food security regulations or something similar. And government can suck enough money out of the economy to make this a Hobson’s choice. We can’t just walk away from the government aid. We also have to be working actively to put limits on the size and scope of government.

    • #12
    • November 1, 2015, at 12:50 PM PST
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  13. Greg Scott Contributor
    Greg Scott

    St. Salieri:I grew up 25 minutes from there, and have worked in Butler on and off as a musician over the years, including this summer. I’m going to see what the word on the street is about this.

    I can’t believe the local people are standing for it, unless there’s more to this than meets the eye. I wonder if there is a local personality war going on – that’s a fine old western Pennsylvanian tradition.

    Report back what you hear!

    • #13
    • November 1, 2015, at 4:16 PM PST
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  14. Doctor Robert Member

    This is not unique. Massachusetts shut down adoption services from Catholic organizations five or six years ago due to their not serving single parents or gay couples. The kids are less important than the gays.

    • #14
    • November 1, 2015, at 8:01 PM PST
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  15. Al Sparks Thatcher

    Greg Scott: 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.

    These two paragraphs are probably the kernel of this issue. You can’t give churches a wholly free pass when it comes to public money. Supposedly the church wasn’t allowed to proselytize under previous requirements to the money. That’s a religious restriction, isn’t it?

    Personally, I can’t get too excited about the requirement. If the church wants to provide the same service based on private donations, and in return the government harasses the church, I’d stand in opposition to the government and with the church.

    Given that the workers providing this service with government funds would not be allowed to proselytize could you explain to me why the workers the church hires with its government grants needs to be of that religion?

    I’ve heard of cases where churches have been challenged on their hiring practices of staff working in the church with money privately donated. That’s where I draw the line.

    • #15
    • November 1, 2015, at 8:15 PM PST
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  16. The Reticulator Member

    Al Sparks: Given that the workers providing this service with government funds would not be allowed to proselytize could you explain to me why the workers the church hires with its government grants needs to be of that religion? I’ve heard of cases where churches have been challenged on their hiring practices of staff working in the church with money privately donated. That’s where I draw the line.

    What about staff teaching in a school operated by the church? That’s a line that has been under attack.

    • #16
    • November 1, 2015, at 8:18 PM PST
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  17. The Reticulator Member

    Al Sparks: Given that the workers providing this service with government funds would not be allowed to proselytize could you explain to me why the workers the church hires with its government grants needs to be of that religion?

    Needs to be?

    The government sure likes to stick its nose into deciding what people really need, doesn’t it.

    Maybe the church would like all involved to have similar motivations, so that they are all taking part in a common mission. Note: like, not need.

    I agree that money is going to come with strings, and that it’s best to avoid those entanglements. That’s the nature of things. That doesn’t mean I’m not extremely disturbed that this is happening.

    • #17
    • November 1, 2015, at 8:23 PM PST
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  18. Randy Webster Member

    Nick Stuart:Government money is the Devil’s candy for ministries. We have to learn how to do without it.

    Government money is the Devil’s candy for anyone.

    • #18
    • November 2, 2015, at 1:24 AM PST
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  19. Profile Photo Member

    Well, they are not being forced to do anything.

    They want the standard government contract changed to remove the anti-discrimination clause, and apparently several other items, that haven’t been enumerated in the local media coverage.

    Local Catholic Charities and Lutheran services sign the same contract and operate with no difficulty in Butler County. The pastor says he won’t hire a Muslim. A purely speculative answer, apparently.

    I don’t quite understand what the issue is – this is what happens when you take any government largess, and in the past they didn’t want to even sign a contract to take their money. So, the county felt it had an oversight responsibility with the money that was being given, which may be over-zealous nannyism on the county’s part, or responsible checking up on taxpayer resources being out sourced.

    It sounds like a mess of entanglements due to the nature of our bureaucratic state, but not a story of discrimination. At least so far, the only person claiming discrimination is the Pastor who won’t sign the contract to get his government block grant money. Otherwise no one’s been forced to do anything.

    I’m waiting to hear back from some local individuals with, hopefully, a little more insight.

    US law protects Christian schools in most cases, I know most of the in/outs from being a church organist and boardmember over the last 20 years, I don’t know about shelters that take grant money.

    • #19
    • November 2, 2015, at 5:31 AM PST
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  20. The Reticulator Member

    St. Salieri: St. Salieri Well, they are not being forced to do anything. They want the standard government contract changed to remove the anti-discrimination clause, and apparently several other items, that haven’t been enumerated in the local media coverage.

    Reminds me of this great exchange in Eldar Ryazanov’s Forgotten Melody for a Flute, about some Soviet bureaucrats who are having trouble adjusting to perestroika.

    Choir director: “You mean you’re banning this song?”

    Ministry of Leisure Time bureaucrat: “Comrades, we never ban anything. We only give advice.”

    You probably have to go to the YouTube site to see it. It begins at about 17:55.

    https://youtu.be/zCIb0R_8Ww4?t=17m55s

    • #20
    • November 2, 2015, at 7:23 AM PST
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