Friday, December 3, 2010
While many conservatives rail against the Obama administration’s massive $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and point to it as the main symbol for an era they feel is defined by out-of-control government spending, there’s a irony to their rant.
The stimulus is also the largest-scale embodiment of what was once a top conservative priority: directing tax dollars to “faith-based initiatives,” as former President George W. Bush called them.
According to an analysis by POLITICO, since becoming president in 2009, Barack Obama has poured at least $140 million of stimulus money into so-called faith-based groups, the result of an unpublicized White House decision to spend government money to support religious, nonprofit groups.
Stimulus dollars bought the Castleton United Methodist Church in Indianapolis a new heating and cooling system, in Laramie, WY, it bought the Church of St. Laurence O’Toole new windows for a Catholic school, and in Harrisburg, Christian Churches United of the Tri-County Area spent its $120,000 in stimulus funding on food and shelter for the local homeless.
The Obama White House made an aggressive attempt at outreach with conference calls and online seminars instructing faith-based groups on how to apply for grants, and Federal officials sometimes stepped in when the state officials who distribute the money were reluctant to spend it on groups associated with churches and other religious establishments.
Pastor Rick Warren and Minister Jeremiah Wright must be proud.