Magazine article The American Prospect

Of Little Faith

Magazine article The American Prospect

Of Little Faith

Article excerpt

IN EARLY MARCH, GEORGE W. Bush rallied his "armies of compassion" at the annual conference for leaders of faith-based organizations in Washington. "I am here to talk about my continued commitment to faith-based and community groups because I'm firmly committed to making sure every American can realize the promise of our country," he declared.

Bush came armed with statistics to drive his point home. According to the president, the administration has increased grants to faith-based organizations by 20 percent since 2003, meaning that about $2 billion in grant money was awarded last year to religious charities. But Bush's faith-based agenda is more Holy Ghost than manna from heaven. For starters, the numbers don't add up: In 2003, $1.1 billion was awarded to religious groups from money administered by five agencies--the departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, Labor, and Education. That year, the Agriculture Department and the Agency for International Development also administered grants to religious groups. Those two were not tabulated in the 2003 figure, but this year they were, hence the goosed total.

While the administration spins the initiative as a way to bring new faith-based groups into the circle, in fact most of the grant recipients are large, well-established social-service providers that have received federal money for many years. …

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