The executive director of the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund has resigned her post after prominent members of the fund’s religious advisory committee quit and harshly criticized the manner in which the fund made grants to houses of worship.
Ten months ago, the nation was riveted by televised images of people, most of them African Americans, fleeing the floodwaters in New Orleans. It was obvious that poor black neighborhoods were the most vulnerable when Hurricane Katrina hit and the levees broke, and that blacks had the fewest resources with which to cope with the disaster.
Those weathering Katrina’s aftermath see no end in sight. “It's going to go on for years,” says United Methodist bishop Hope Morgan Ward. "For years and years." “We’re not back to normal, and I don’t know what that would be like,” says Nelson Roth, pastor of Gulfhaven Mennonite Church in Gulfport, Mississippi.
As criticism of the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina continues, praise of faith-based groups that have responded is providing new momentum in a campaign to expand federal funding of religious social services.
Faced with howls of protest, Mayor Ray Nagin apologized January 17 for claiming that a vengeful God smote New Orleans with Hurricane Katrina because of heavenly disapproval of America’s involvement in Iraq and of rampant violence within urban black communities.
The outpouring of private charity to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina and two sister storms now ranks as the most generous in American history, surpassing donations after September 11, according to researchers who track philanthropy.