Of church and state

A friend who’s a church administrator mentioned to the Nonprofiteer that the church’s fundraising is up these past few months, and that the administrator’s  job is safer than it’s been in years because of the sudden inflow of support from parishioners.  Historically churches have done better during recessions and depressions, as people direct their giving to places that provide comfort, or perhaps just to places benefiting them rather than other people.

This fact puts a slightly different spin on the President’s otherwise troubling appointment of a minister to lead the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Service.  If the churches are the only agencies attracting contributions, then it makes sense to lean hard on them to be ones providing desperately-needed social services.  The Nonprofiteer may prefer secular agencies, but what’s important is that people get services from somewhere.

Of course, this makes it all the more important that the President and Attorney General move aggressively to combat any discrimination in service provision or in hiring by these religious organizations.  If they’re going to do Caesar’s work they’d better abide by Caesar’s law.

Interesting that in this recession/depression, the two best places to look for a job seem to be church, and state.  Especially with employment in the secular nonprofit sector projected to decline 20%.

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One Response to “Of church and state”

  1. Katherine Says:

    Greetings from Limey Land…

    At least Joshua DuBois has a good set of secular degrees from good places (OK, maybe Brown and Princeton aren’t the U of C, but they’re in the running), as well as being a pastor. And – amazingly – there are religious people who are, for example, pro-choice (www.rcrc.org). Given Obama’s past relationships with church leaders who are clear with rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and who are keen to separate the word “religious” from the word “right”, it’s probably another slam-dunk from his administration rather than a threat to secularism.

    Churches/faith communities have infrastructures, personnel, and a huge pool of talent to draw upon, and they’re pre-organised units of folk who know each other and are accustomed to finding ways to get along, and possibly, sometimes, even like each other. As you’ve observed before, getting to work with people you like is a necessary element in encouraging voluntarism. (Although a nonstandard Xian friend of mine observes: “The problem with being a Christian is that you’re obliged to love people who actually make you curl up at the edges.” I suspect the President feels that way sometimes about his task with the Republicans.)

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