Sago Boulevard

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Christians And "People of Faith"

Diane Glass and Shaunti Feldhahn debate "Should aid be allowed to promote religious messages during disaster relief?" Feldhahn gives the standard Christian line: In a disaster situation, people need both material and spiritual aid. Most people of faith are responding out of "a heart of love and compassion for those who are hurting," not merely to "push religion". I'm willing to grant that for the majority of missionary groups, what Feldhahn says is true. I don't think every priest or minister who goes to New Orleans is only trying to attract converts. I believe many of them, being genuinely religious people, really do want to help in whatever way they can. Having said that, Glass, in her rebuttal, makes an incredibly important point:
Shaunti deflects who is really responsible because what we’re talking about are Christian aid relief organizations, not all “religious-based” groups.

When Feldhahn says "people of faith" what she means is "Christian". I'm fully sympathetic to the claim that confining religion to inside the home and places of worship is a slap in the face to anybody who takes God seriously. As far as that goes, I'm happy to see Christian missionary groups bring their religious convictions to the disaster-stricken New Orleans. They certainly have a right to. But the rhetoric of "faith-based" or "religion-based" aid groups is highly misleading. Call a spade a spade. We're talking about Christian missionary groups whose ideology includes spreading the Gospel. You have a right to missionize - it's protected by the First Amendment. Just stop lying about it.