Jul 05, 2000
Developed in light of “Charitable Choice,” the following guidelines reflect an effort by some religious groups to regulate their dealings with government funding agencies. Religious organizations that wish to comment on the draft should contact Amy Sherman at <ShermanA[at]Cstone.net>.
When Pastor Gertraud Knoll rose to speak to the crowd in front of the Vienna Opera House last February, she knew her remarks could be hazardous to her career. A few weeks before, a coalition government had been formed that included Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, which pandered to voters’ xenophobia with such slogans as “Put a stop to too many foreigners” and “Stop asylum abuse.” Knoll, superintendent of the Lutheran Church in the eastern province of Burgenland, addressed the quarter-million people who gathered to protest against the Freedom Party’s role in the government.
When many ministers’ primary role shifted from being pulpit preacher to being institutional CEO, clergy found themselves wondering, “When did my study become an office?” Today, as congregations consider tapping government funds to provide social services once provided by secular agencies, another question may be arising: “When did our ministry become a program?”
At first the editors of the Century, like most others who viewed the situation from afar, failed to appreciate the threat posed by the rise of the Nazi party in Germany. By May 1933, a few months after Hitler assumed the position of chancellor, editorials began to take the rise of fascism more seriously. But in Hitler’s early years, editors used German activities to drive home the point that the punitive treaty of Versailles had been an absolute failure. “We who defeated Germany,” one editorial stated boldly, “helped to make Hitler” (May 10, 1933).
In 1998 Sue Hill, an administrator with the Department of Human Services in Peoria, Illinois, was trying to help find jobs for several adults whose families were on welfare. Under the new welfare laws, the families would lose their cash benefits (called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or TANF) if the heads of the households didn’t find work soon. The department was not able to give these families the time-intensive support and attention they needed. So Hill decided to turn to the town’s faith community.
The principal of the Catholic high school was taken aback by the phone call. It came from an inmate in a nearby prison. He was known to be wealthy, but had been incarcerated for having acquired some of his wealth by fraudulent means. Now the man was offering to make a significant donation to the school.