Friday, February 8, 2008
The Amherst Student, the student newspaper at Amherst College, today called for bipartisan support of federal legislation that would allow religious organizations to receive direct grants in support of their secular, social welfare activities. Here is the concluding paragraph of a pragmatic, even if idealistic, op-ed piece.
A president who promotes faith-based initiatives could compete for the support of the nearly 120 million Americans who consider themselves to be Christian. There are still, of course, the evangelicals, many of whom focus on their opposition to gay marriage more than on their desire to see the religious charities thrive on government support. However, a new variety of conservative Christians are increasing in number. These “new” evangelicals appear to view government as much as a tool for furthering social justice as for legislating Christian values. According to Pew surveys, two-thirds of professed evangelicals favor churches that are willing to apply for federal grants. Once we prioritize the universal desire to alleviate poverty, churches will have greater resources with which to do good, and more young Americans of faith will take action in social service ministries, thus avoiding being sucked into the quagmire of partisan politics. Religion must not be too separate from the state, when the church is useful in the “secular” sense. At some point, both partisan wings should swallow their hostilities and tend to the crisis of poverty that continues to rage.
I like to see students, especially undergraduates, engaged in issues of the day -- the way students were (or are least were portrayed as having been) engaged in important issues of the day during the 60's. I must really be getting old.