President Bush’s faith-based funding plan has come under sharp attack from unexpected quarters.
Pat Robertson, head of the Christian Coalition, wondered if the faith-based initiative might be “a real Pandora’s Box” on the Feb. 20 broadcast of the 700 club.
Jerry Falwell, president of Liberty University, told Beliefnet he had “deep concerns about the faith-based initiatives.”
Marvin Olasky, editor of World magazine, said he was “five-sixths a supporter of faith-based initiatives,” according to Associated Baptist Press.
John DiIulio, head of the new White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, responded to dissent in his remarks at the annual convention of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) on March 7.
“Faith leaders, organizations, and communities that perceive the slope as secularizing and slippery ought simply to opt out,” DiIulio said. But “with all due respect, and in all good fellowship, predominantly white, ex-urban evangelical and national para-church leaders should be careful not to presume to speak for any persons other than themselves and their own churches.”
DiIulio’s criticism of conservative evangelical concerns served only to intensify their doubts about federal funding for Christian social ministries.
The White House is hoping to “quiet some of the surprisingly vehement opposition to the program,” according to the March 12 Washington Post.
“We’re not ready to send our own bill up,” said Don Eberly, deputy director of the new White House office, in the Post. “We’re postponing.”
But Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary, denied the Post story.
When Beliefnet News Services asked Fleischer if the White House had stepped away from its plan, he responded, “Not a peep.”
Meanwhile, Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, wrote on Beliefnet that conservative reservations might stem from “confusing statements being made by some of the President’s aides.”
“Those of us who care about delivering services to people, and offering a Christian witness in the process, need to get behind these proposals,” Colson wrote.