Sunday, July 8, 2007

A SPIRITUAL AND MORAL QUANDARY


On helping those in need, whether in war zones, disaster areas or in your neighborhood.


Does the "giving" become spiritually or morally tainted when there are agenda's attached to the "giving"?

What about when those agenda's are instances in which the religious believer 'believes' it is their moral obligation to "save" the people whom they are helping? Is this morally or spiritually tainted "giving - helping"?

Is there such as thing as "purity" in giving?

(There have been rare examples throughout the ages of human beings who have served humanity with agenda-free purity. For the most part though, human beings on the whole, have been prone to their ego's becoming involved with their "helping-giving".)

Does a person need to be "saved by Jesus" in order for the meaningfulness of their lives to be validated by God or the Divine Being of their understanding?

Can serving the poor and caring for those in need amongst us still be held in the Divine Heart as Divine Will if the person who has given their lives in such a manner is an atheist, humanist or non-religious person? What if their religious orientation is Muslim, Hindu, Hare Krishna, Buddhist, Wiccan, Daoist, or Catholic?

What type of Divine Being, if you choose to believe in God or a Divine Being, would condemn into eternal damnation, a human being who has given his or her life to the charity and care of the 'least amongst them', for not being "saved by Jesus Christ"?

What God would condemn a human being into eternal damnation for not interspersing into their dialogues reassuring references about their "being saved by Jesus Christ, our Lord"?


Isn't there a spiritual arrogance in this manner of thinking?

Cannot even the most truly gentle hearted amongst us become unwitting religious fanatics when they begin to tell those with whom they encounter, with utmost sincerity and concern their eyes, that "if you happen to die tonight, you will go to hell and be dammed" for not publicly acknowledging to them that you have been "saved by Jesus"?

Isn't it about then when the "giving" or the "helping" they bring begins to show signs of spiritual or moral taintedness?

Does my "giving-helping" become tainted if I work and/or associate myself with people whom I have found out believe in this way?

Do I continue to interact with religious evangelicals when I find out their "giving" (of bags of groceries) involves conversion related preaching, (and as of this week) the immersing of religious evangelical booklets and pamphlets in their food packages. What of the perceptible 'cooling' from previous interactions after last week, when one of the church members found through lengthy discussion and praying with me, that I would not 'publicly acknowledge' that I was "saved" in the same terminology and evangelical style of witnessing as themselves?

What are the spiritual and moral boundaries that may be breached when the organization who provides the food for distribution has a mission statement of diversity and the organization who is distributing the food is 1. preaching, 2. has a belief system that is rigid and intolerant of ''other religious beliefs" and 3. the religious organizations agenda, is "conversion oriented"?

I realize that 2 years after the natural disaster brought on by Katrina/Rita I have the "luxury" of contemplating this issue. Yet isn't this an important enough issue to be discussing amongst ourselves, especially as the United States government continues to "contract out" to a greater number of religious non-profits (a practice found legal by the Supreme Court - Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote the majority opinion in the case.) thereby eroding the First Amendment rights of the separation of church and state?

Religious evangelicals may delight in what many of them believe to be "their victory" in the Supreme Court, but in the future I feel they as well as the rest of us, will rue the day that church and government first became so entwined.

IN PEACE.


Related Reading:

1. Progress for the President's 'Compassion Agenda' Today's Presidential Action
During the traditional December season of giving, President Bush took steps to help those in need by reaching out to America's faith-based and community organizations.

The President announced that he would implement, by Executive Order, key elements of his Faith-Based and Community Initiative, including some elements contained in the bipartisan C.A.R.E. Act legislation that stalled in the Senate this year.
These actions will make it easier for America's charities to work with the federal government to address the needs of hurting Americans.

The President:

Signed an Executive Order on Equal Treatment for Charities and announced new Agency actions eliminating discriminatory practices against faith-based and community groups;

Directed FEMA to revise its policy on disaster relief for faith-based non-profits.
Whitehouse Press Release


2. Supreme Court decision on faith-based programs solid, says Christian attorney
The president of the Pacific Justice Institute says a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court which sided with the White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives will be a major setback for secular humanist groups who want to push their radical agenda on the country.One News Now

3. Nontheists Condemn Supreme Court Decision in Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation Commondreams.org

4. Congressman Bobby Jindal Introduces "Disaster Relief Equity Act of 2005", H.R. 1552A bill to codify into law an Executive Order which President George W. Bush signed in December 2002 -- which allows the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to provide disaster relief to eligible faith-based social organizations -- was introduced by Congressman Bobby Jindal, (R-LA). Prior to the President's E.O., FEMA's policy barred the agency from granting disaster relief to religious non-profits such as schools, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters when they suffered damage, even though they provide valuable social services to the community. Christian Coalition of America

5. "...correctly reports that as the legislation is written, faith-based service providers won't be able to discriminate against clients on religious grounds. But it is by no means clear that they won't be able to discriminate on other grounds, notably sexual orientation; moreover, faith-based groups have historically had fairly wide latitude to engage in employment discrimination when claiming a religious rationale, and there is no reason to think this will change when these groups are spending public funds.

Charitable choice is a provision of the failed welfare reform legislation of 1996, founded on the principle that people are impoverished because of bad choices and irresponsible behavior. The systemic causes of poverty and the unprecedented wealth gap of the past twenty-five years are not considered. Part of the neoliberal project clearly involves tempering the harshness and salving some wounds with a dose of good old Christian charity. But should the churches be accepting the basic situation of systemic injustice?

What happens to their prophetic voice if they are willing to play the role of junior partner to Pharaoh? This is
just a matter of the churches' own integrity; nonreligious progressives also have a stake in preserving an independent religious sector that has not been bought out by the totalizing neoliberal agenda.
REV. PETER LAARMAN Judson Memorial Church

6. Religious Charities and Government Funding
AYMAN REDA Michigan State University - Department of Economics - September 2004

Abstract: In this paper, we model several aspects of the relationship between religious nonprofits and the government in the context of recent governmental programs such as the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The government has the responsibility of providing a social service to its citizens. It decides whether to award the funds to a religious nonprofit, secular nonprofit or produce the service itself. Religious charities are willing to provide the service at lower costs if they can use the funds as an opportunity to proselytize their doctrine. This is because they gain utility from preaching to more individuals, which allows them to gain more adherents. This provides them with an advantage over non-religious providers and rival religious charities. The choice of which religious denomination(s) to award the funds to will determine the nature of the change in believers' preferences due to the proselytizing, which will in turn affect the religious 'balance of power' between denominations in the society. Read more on this paper at:
Social Science Research Network

7. Books in Review:
When Sacred and Secular Mix

In conclusion:

I'll keep repeating this message as a warning: "the responses and actions that have occurred since Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, is going to affect the lives and liberties of many other American citizens, wherever the next natural or man-made disaster occurs in the United States.

I strongly believe that New Orleans has become the laboratory for a "social experiment" in social engineering by the U.S. government in which We the People are in the proverbial petri dish. It is in my opinion that a whole city is being socially "redesigned and re-engineered demographically by class/wealth segregation and racial segregation, which includes an unprecedented influx of documented and undocumented Mexican and Latin Americans, and the covert social engineering behind unregulated evangelical religious non-profits whose religious agenda's are to convert and save.

Let me state categorically that many religious non-profits have literally "saved" hundreds of thousands of families and individuals since Katrina and have not been involved with conversion and preaching related helping. These groups and individuals along with the humanists and other secular groups, have been the back-bone in bringing in volunteers and organizing the rebuilding of homes, lives and communities in New Orleans, St. Bernard Parish, Mississippi and other regions of Louisiana. I can't even imagine how much greater the scope of suffering would be with out them and I have a strong intuition that this is what the Bush administration was counting on as days went by before the government stepped in and began its rescuing efforts. A powerful accusation, which I cannot prove.

What many Americans do not realize is that there will be long-term social and political implications of overt/covert religious and political social engineering when mainly religious institutions and corporations take over the rebuilding of communities, city's and nations.

(Note: In the early days of the Iraq invasion it was reported that many faith based groups went over to "help", unfortunately those who came with an "evangelical agenda" to convert the Arabs, the Muslims and even the Iraqi Christan's, made other efforts by less "conversion oriented religious non-profits" and NGO's obsolete. And we are all aware of the social, moral and ethical ramifications of private security contractors and fighters in Iraq.)

Since the Regan administration, the U.S. Government has been "contracting out" it's social responsibilities to corporations and religious institutions and the city of New Orleans especially, has become the perfect environment to "try out" these new policies and forms of social engineering.

Christ Jesus last words ring more true today then ever before, when he said:

"Forgive them Father for they know not what they do."

God help us.

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