President Obama is quick to visit churches, of any denomination, when he’s in search of political donations, in search of votes or in search of street creds with the Black community. Like so many others in the Democrat party, the President often seems indifferent to churches and the efforts of faith-based groups. He has skipped out on the National Day of Prayer, and after suffering through the scrutiny and criticisms from the Reverend Wright episode, Obama has avoided almost anything related to church and faith. Sadly, President Obama might be keenly aware of the political value (and risks) of churches and faith-based communities, but seems unaware of the incredible generosity of churches and faith-based organizations in the United States
What a pity. Mr. Obama clearly believes that the role of charity is best performed by the government, which alone should be responsible for helping the downtrodden and destitute. Churches and private philanthropy, which Americans support with a generosity that all other nations envy, are not seen as worthy of consideration.
In reality, churches and faith-based organizations are far more effective than government in providing and support to those in need. Government programs, orchestrated by distant bureaucrats become huge, slow, and indifferent. Rarely do government assistance programs meet the stated goals, and rarely is taxpayer money wisely allocated. Faith-based programs, using private money, by contrast, are targeted to specific, immediate, community problems.
Gertrude Himmelfarb, the brilliant, conservative historian, has written extensively, showing historically that charity that works best is charity which is targeted, local, accountable and appropriate to need—precisely the kind of support the federal government is ill-suited to administer.
Alexis de Tocqueville, almost two centuries earlier, also concluded that government assistance to the unemployed and to the poor is ineffective because, ultimately, when treated as an entitlement or “right”, the surety of support, over time, robs individuals of the incentive to work. The 800 pound gorilla in Obama’s Oval Office is the rising number of multi-generational Americans on welfare, incentivized by the federal government to continue their growing dependency on public assistance.