Despite his criticism of “faith-based” funding, Pat Robertson is poised to receive $500,000 in federal funding for his charity, Operation Blessing.
Operation Blessing is one of 25 organizations to receive funds from the Compassion Capital Fund, which will award $30 million to religious organizations that provide social services, according to the Washington Post.
In March, Robertson told his “700 Club” audience that those who receive the federal funds “will be nurtured, if I can use that term, on federal money, and then they can’t get off of it. It’ll be like a narcotic.”
“We had over 500 applicants; it was extremely competitive,” Bill Pierce, spokesman for Health and Human Services, which is overseeing the grants, told the Post. “We awarded awards to the best proposals and one of Mr. Robertson’s groups, they put in an application, so they obviously must have been interested.”
According to its Web site, Operation Blessing is committed to providing “short-term relief and development assistance to economically disadvantaged people and victims of disaster throughout the world.” The organization is registered with the Federal Emergency Management Association and the United States Agency for International Development.
Operation Blessing’s officials said they will use the money to help coordinate hunger initiatives with 120 local groups all over the United States, the Post reported.
Some organizations are upset that Robertson’s charity will be getting the funds.
In a statement on its Web site, the Council on American Islamic Relations called Operation Blessing “unworthy” because of Robertson’s attacks on Muslims and Islam.
“In a recent appearance on Fox News Channel’s ‘Hannity & Colmes’ program, Robertson smeared both Islam and the Prophet Muhammad,” read the statement. “About Muhammad, Robertson said: ‘This man was an absolute wild-eyed fanatic. He was a robber and a brigand. And to say that these terrorists distort Islam, they’re carrying out Islam … I mean, this man [Muhammad] was a killer. And to think that this is a peaceful religion is fraudulent.'”
CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “Anyone who exhibits such bigoted, hate-filled views is unworthy to receive tax-payer dollars. Mr. Robertson should be repudiated, not rewarded, for his Islamophobic hate speech. The White House initiative must not finance those who would defame Islam and divide our nation.”
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State also voiced concern over the faith-based funding.
“Giving religious groups control over public funds is a blatant violation of the Constitution,” the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said in a press release. “Under the First Amendment, religious ministries shouldn’t become an arm of the government.”
Aside from general disapproval of the faith-based funding, Lynn said: “Robertson is one of the chief purveyors of religious bigotry in America. To reward his outfit with government funding is an insult to every American taxpayer.”
Jodi Mathews is BCE’s communications director.