Losing Faith (Part 2)

This is the continuation of a previous post in which I showed that living out one’s faith in providing social services has been the root of a 10% better success rate for Faith-Based Organizations (FBOs) than similar non-faith organizations.

Government funding requires FBOs to do the impossible, stay successful and lose their faith.  Current law states that organizations receiving government funds cannot perform religious acts at the same time or place as their social services.  However, it is the inclusion of faith that makes FBOs successful.

As a result, FBOs have had to do extra accounting to make sure government funds do not go toward their religious activities.  Some organizations that are faith-based only by affiliation have chosen drop religious programs altogether.  Even those that separate accounts and hold onto their faith elements are prone to mission shift.

In 1974 Catholic Charities USA received 24% of its funds from the government.  That figure rose to 52% by 1979, and today has leveled off around two thirds of their total funding.  With this increase has come a change in programming and a redefinition of the organization’s mission in secular terms.

As government grants were offered for alcohol and drug treatment programs, Catholic Charities programming followed. In 1995 its Massachusetts office in focused 80% of its funds on substance abuse services that benefited only a quarter of their clients.  A 2001 Cato institute report found the St. Francis House in Boston, once staffed largely by Franciscan Brothers, now avoids hiring “overtly religious people” at the same time filling 52% of its budget with state contracts.

Other issues arise from government funding.  FBOs are called on to professionalize their staff, who in many cases are former clients.  FBOs have found that the best person to rehab a drug addict is a former drug addict who, though not having a masters in counciling, knows the challenges their client will face.

By using this model, and being extremely clear that Jesus is the answer to leaving a life of drugs, Teen Challenge has been extremely successful in its mission to rehabilitate those with drug addictions.  Time Magazine and Northwestern University found Teen challenge to have a 70%-80% success rate, a figure dwarfing that of secular organizations.  The Northwestern Report concluded that,

The “Jesus Factor” is still the only true answer to the drug problem.

It is faith and local volunteers, not training, not professionalism, and not high salaries that has had the greatest sucess in solving social problems.  Government funding pulls down these two pillars of FBO success.  Charity should be left up to private citizens who invest in the communities they live in and use everything they believe in when serving others.

Adam Rule – MCPP Intern


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