Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented on what happened yesterday at the first official meeting of President Obama’s Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (the information is taken from a report by the “On Faith” blog site of Newsweek/Washington Post):
The only item of real interest to the Catholic League is the agency’s commitment to extend foreign aid to such civil institutions as churches, mosques and temples. This is a commendable proposition, but it also smacks of hypocrisy: U.S. taxpayers are expected to foot the bill for religious institutions overseas but there is no money for poor kids down the block from the White House who would like to have a school voucher to attend a Catholic school.
The argument that we have a Constitution to deal with at home is a canard: vouchers are not unconstitutional. Moreover, if helping civil institutions, including religious ones, is a proper goal for the U.S. to pursue abroad, why is it not a proper one to pursue at home? To be sure, constitutional issues must be respected, but the Constitution does not put a straightjacket on the right of government to offer assistance of all kinds to religious institutions. Indeed, the very establishment of this agency is testimony to this point.
In short, if the Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships initiative is to succeed, then it must be judged by what it does at home, as well as abroad.