In Katrina Relief, Line Between Church and State Draws Closer

October 28, 2005

Source: Beliefnet

Wire Service: AP

On October 28, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "The Mississippi agency that promotes President Bush's faith-based initiative usually draws about 25 church groups to its sessions on tapping government funds for social service projects. This month, that number nearly doubled. It is just one sign that, as congregations in the Gulf Coast and surrounding states begin to focus on long-term recovery from Hurricane Katrina, a closer relationship between churches and state and local governments is developing... The mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn., faced with aiding hundreds of evacuees, opened a local faith-based office weeks earlier than he had planned this fall. A Houston interfaith nonprofit joined high-level city planning meetings about helping the displaced. And emergency management officials in Memphis and Tennessee's Shelby County are drawing up plans to incorporate churches into the county's disaster relief operations. Jackson said that about half the states have faith-based offices - or a faith-based liaison within a state social service agency - to help religious service groups obtain government funding. Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a Republican, was among the latest to start a state initiative, noting that the churches' hurricane response showed that faith groups can help people in ways government can't. The Bush administration is using that same argument to steer federal relief dollars to religious service organizations."