Volume , Number 0
There are no articles.Commentary
There are no articles.Culture
There are no articles.Features
Church & State
H. bruce Franklin
Israel's Approved Ethnic Cleansing, Part â€¦
There are no articles.
NOTE: Z Magazine subscribers and sustainers have access to all Z Magazine articles here and in the archive. The latest Z Magazine articles available to everyone are listed in the Free Articles box at the top of the table of contents, and are starred in the list below. Questions? e-mail Z Magazine Online.
The Bradley Foundation
Bush's faith-based initiative
When Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush made a campaign stop in Milwaukee, Wisconsin last July, he visited a new inner city center for addicted fathers called Faith Works. It's one of many private agencies that use religion as a motivator to help people overcome alcohol or drug problems. Bush used the visit as a photo-op to propose that the federal government spend $185 million over five years on similar agencies, describing Faith Works as “exactly the kind of program that I envision.”
Although the stop on the city's African American North Side was meant to promote the image of a New Republican reaching out to new constituencies, not everyone was welcome. Local NAACP leaders, for example, were not among those invited. On the other hand, one of the favored few admitted to the Faith Works offices was Michael Joyce, president of the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bradley had given $100,000 to the center. Bush took the opportunity to praise the foundation as an institution “that has been on the leading edge of social entrepreneurship for a long time.”
That's true, of course, if by “social entrepreneurship” you mean taking pressing social problems and turning them into moneymaking ventures.
Based on the family fortune of the Lynde and Harry Bradley brothers, Milwaukee inventors and industrialists, the Bradley Foundation is the largest, richest, and most influential of the dozen or so right-wing foundations underwriting the think tanks, authors, professors, periodicals and media outlets that manipulate public opinion to accept conservative solutions to social problems. It also funds the “community groups” and legal offices that create, defend, and prop up the pilot projects—like Faith Works—designed to demonstrate the greater “efficiency” of privatization and deregulation in the area of social policy.
For Bradley, the goal is simple: the removal of all legal and social constraints on the pursuit of private profits. Bradley envisions the return to a pre-1935 form of laissez-faire capitalism, free from the concessions forced from the property-owning class by the labor movement of the 1930s and the social movements of the 1960s. The means to this goal are privatization of government services, deregulation of business, and the entrenched social stratification of society by class, race, and gender.
To further the latter aim, Bradley has bankrolled organizations that have played key roles in the overturn of affirmative action in Texas, California, and Washington, groups like the National Association of Scholars, the Center for Individual Rights, and Ward Connerly's American Civil Rights Institute.
Bradley provided $1 million for the writing of the notoriously racist book The Bell Curve, by Charles Murray and Richard Hernstein, which argued that poverty is the result of the existence of a permanent class of genetically inferior people—who just happen to be disproportionately Black—rather than economic conditions, personal dislocations or racial and sexual discrimination. The book was co-funded by the Pioneer Society, a holdover from the white supremacist eugenics movement of the 1930s.
With over $700 million in assets, Bradley is not only the largest conservative foundation in the U.S., it is also the largest foundation of any kind in Wisconsin, with more money than the next three largest state foundations combined. That financial clout has enabled it to find allies across the state, including in the communities of color. Bradley is also well connected politically. Its board of directors includes the former chair of the state Republican Party. At least one board member is always a member of the University of Wisconsin's Board of Regents. Bradley's president, Michael Joyce, is the former head of the John M. Olin Foundation of New York, a member of the Reagan administration's transition team, and a close friend and mentor to William J. Bennett, the former drug czar and Secretary of Education under Reagan and now head of the Republican advocacy group Empower America.
In addition, Bradley has a close relationship with the state's former four-term Republican governor, Tommy Thompson. It funds the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI), the best financed conservative state or regional think tank in the country, which provided the governor with policy papers on education, welfare reform, prison issues, and more. Thompson, of course, is now the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
All this has allowed Bradley to use Wisconsin—and Milwaukee's Black community in particular—as a kind of social laboratory for its right-wing experiments, which it is now promoting as national models. For example, Bradley underwrote the state task force that developed Wisconsin's draconian program of welfare “reform” known as W-2, which has served as a model for the whole country. (Bell Curve author Charles Murray was actually brought in by this task force as a consultant for the development of W-2.) It was also Bradley money that fueled the precedent-setting Milwaukee movement for school vouchers.
Millions of dollars in profits have been made by the agencies awarded contracts to administer W-2 and by the businesses that get virtually free labor through the program. Many millions more stand to be made by the corporations now positioning themselves to profit from the privatization of public education. Papers published by the WPRI led to a massive expansion in the state prison system, with huge state contracts going out to construction companies and service industries.
But faith-based drug and alcohol addiction programs? What's that got to do with profits? Potentially, a lot, if it means the further privatization of government services. But there's more at stake than just money.
The GAPP Report
Contracting with religious groups to deliver government services was a major proposal of something called the National Leadership Task Force on Grassroots Alternatives for Public Policy (GAPP), a grouping put together in the early 1990s by the Washington, DC-based National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise (NCNE). Robert L. Woodson, Sr., a Black conservative promoted by Bradley, heads the NCNE, heavily funded by the Bradley Foundation.
According to the NCNE, “Robert L. Woodson, Sr. was asked by House Speaker Newt Gingrich to form a task force to make specific policy recommendations to the 104th Congress.” Those recommendations were supposedly designed to help streamline the delivery of government services to the poor—a Gingrich concern that up to that time had apparently escaped public notice. In reality, the task force was meant to be a “community” cover for a plan to shift the responsibility of providing social services from the government to private organizations, while bolstering the influence of conservative religious groups in communities of color as a means of social control.
The task force met in Milwaukee in 1995 to reveal its GAPP Report at a national conference held at the offices of Community Enterprises of Greater Milwaukee (CEGM), a faith-based business incubator in the heart of the city's Black community. Like the NCNE, the Bradley Foundation heavily funds the CEGM. Bradley also co-funded the conference, along with another Milwaukee-based group, the Helen Bader Foundation.
A major recommendation of the GAPP Report was that federal money intended to help poor people should by-pass both state and local (elected) government and go directly to hand-picked community-based organizations. These groups need not be staffed by professionals with any particular training. They shouldn't have to be bothered with burdensome regulations, certifications, or inspections. They could be religious groups, ignoring the constitutional separation between church and state.
Specifically, the Report asserted that “Public policy must support their [community-based organizations'] efforts by removing barriers of certification, licensing and regulation; by removing restrictions on faith-based organizations; and by allowing them to receive tax-empowered donations and compete for block grants and voucher funds.” This is exactly the program of George W. Bush's “new” faith-based initiative.
One practical result of the implementation of the GAPP proposals in Tommy Thompson's Wisconsin has been the proliferation of W-2-related “day care centers” in the inner city. Under W-2, new mothers have to apply for or return to work when their infants reach 12 weeks of age. The children have to be left with relatives or else go to childcare centers. Many of these “centers” are just somebody's living room. If they serve three or fewer children up to seven years of age, there is no legal requirement for any testing of lead paint on walls, lead water pipes, any requirements to ensure adequate nutrition, educational programs, or any licensing or certification of day care providers beyond a criminal background check. The providers themselves are often loving, caring people, but they simply lack the material resources to properly care for the young children placed in their charge.
According to Dr. Patricia McManus, who serves on the state-sponsored African-American Infant Mortality Task Force, the rate of infant mortality in Milwaukee's Black community shot up 37 percent in the first year of W-2.
Ashcroft's Charitable Choice
For many years, churches and church organizations have received government contracts to provide services like food, foster care, and drug programs. Most of these contracts were channeled through separate non-profit agencies, like Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services, which were supposed to refrain from trying to proselytize their “clients.”
The door to the direct funding of religious groups was opened wide with the passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (the welfare reform act), signed by President Bill Clinton. That bill contained a provision called Charitable Choice, which authorized private sector, faith-based organizations to act as administrators of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. According to the New York Times, January 30, 2001, “Charitable Choice...granted religious groups that contract with the government the right to maintain their religious identities, symbols and philosophies and to choose only staff who agree with their religious beliefs.”
Former Missouri senator John Ashcroft, the anti-woman, anti-civil rights, pro-Confederacy, right wing religious zealot who is now the top law enforcement officer in the country, drafted the provision.
Here's what one conservative had to say about Charitable Choice: “By enacting this change, Republicans in Congress stood sixties-style social policy thinking on its head. Where once the federal government had turned to Harvard PhDs for policy advice, now they would turn to inner-city ministers. Where once the feds had slopped porcine, left-leaning non-profits in the name of social engineering, now they would support lean and hungry socially conservative organizations with skinny budgets wary of bureaucrats bearing cash.” (From “Social Policy Gets Religion”, by David Dodenhoff, Deputy Director of Arizona Gov. Jane Dee Hull's Office for Excellence in Government, published in the winter, 2000 issue of Wisconsin Interest, magazine of the Bradley- funded Wisconsin Policy Research Institute.)
Charitable Choice supporters clearly saw a political thrust to this provision: removing funding from “left-leaning” non-profit agencies and shifting it to “socially conservative” religious organizations. It's also a continuation of the recent process of transforming progressive service agencies into profit making enterprises.
In November 1999, Bradley funded a conference in Milwaukee designed to popularize the concept of faith-based funding. The event, entitled “What Works and Why ‘99,” was held at the downtown Wyndham Hotel. A brochure described it as “a showcase conference of outstanding community initiatives from the faith community.” The conference, co-presented by Woodson's National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise and Community Enterprises of Greater Milwaukee, was directed primarily at African American religious groups. The keynote speaker was John Ashcroft.
Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
Just nine days after being sworn in as president, George W. Bush announced the establishment of a new White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The stated goal of the office, which opened for business on February 20, 2001, is to help religious groups receive government funds and contracts to deliver social services, especially to the very poor.
“Real change happens street by street, heart by heart, one soul, one conscience at a time,” Bush explained the following day, speaking outside a religious-based community center in Washington, DC. He described a legislative package that includes a variety of tax credits and deductions for those contributing to religious charities. The legislation would also create a fund that would match private dollars with federal money to provide technical assistance to faith-based and community charities. Another aspect would limit the liability of corporations donating vehicles, aircraft, equipment or facilities to charitable groups. Through direct contracts, tax-exempt donations and matching funds, billions of dollars in potential funding would be made available.
Joining Bush at the photo-op was Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the recent vice presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, who said he and Bush were of “like minds” concerning the goals of the new initiative. Lieberman's erstwhile running mate Al Gore has also called for a more active role for religious groups in delivering federally funded social services. And Representative Dick Gephardt (D-MO), the House minority leader, has also indicated interest in Bush's proposals.
To head up his new Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Bush chose University of Pennsylvania political science professor John J. DiIulio, Jr., described in the New York Times as “a widely published expert on juvenile crime.” DiIulio is a fellow at both the conservative Manhattan Institute (funded by Bradley and other conservative foundations) and the more mainstream Brookings Institution. A contributing editor at the conservative Weekly Standard, he has also written for the moderate New Democrat.
According to the independent investigative web site www.Media- Transparency.org, between January 1988 and August 1996, DiIulio received seven grants totaling $277,000 from the Olin and Bradley foundations, plus a share in a $400,000 grant from Olin in 1999.
DiIulio, who describes himself as a “new Democrat,” was a strong advocate of increased prison construction in the early 1990s. His efforts are credited with influencing the 1994 crime bill, which provided millions of dollars for prison construction. In 1996 he came out with the book Body Count about the fight against crime, co-written with John P. Walters and William J. Bennett.
DiIulio predicted that a new and horribly brutal crime wave was about to be carried out by children and teenagers. His dire warning of a new class of “superpredators,” a “generational wolf pack,” never materialized, but both Democrats and Republicans seized on DiIulio's predictions to justify their own wave of brutal legislation, including the trying of children as adults, harsh new sentences for juvenile offenders, and the massive expansion of juvenile prisons. All of this contributed to the doubling of the prison population under Bill Clinton.
President Bush has also created a national advisory board for his faith-based initiative, to be headed by former prosecutor and Indianapolis mayor Stephen Goldsmith, who will act as an official adviser to Bush on the issue. Goldsmith has been closely associated with the Indianapolis-based Hudson Institute, the conservative think tank (funded by the Eli Lilly family fortune as well as the Bradley Foundation) that played a leading role in the development of Wisconsin's welfare reform program. Goldsmith functioned as chief domestic policy adviser during Bush's presidential campaign.
Hudson heavily promotes the privatization of government services. During his tenure as mayor, Goldsmith “privatized everything from golf course construction to sewage treatment and showed an interest in revitalizing long-neglected inner-city neighborhoods” (New York Times, 1/29/01). That revitalization (read “gentrification”) resulted in the widespread dispersal of the city's Black community and its subsequent loss of any real political power.
Last year Goldsmith “suggested that a homeless shelter receiving federal funds should not be prevented from asking recipients to pray once a day” (New York Times, 1/30/01). As a board member of the Corporation for National Service, Goldsmith will oversee the involvement of tens of thousands of Americorps program volunteers, who Bush wants re-directed to work on issues like literacy and after-school care—as part of the faith-based funding initiative.
Goldsmith and Bush have both been boosters of another conservative ideologue, the hard-line Marvin Olasky. Olasky was the original proponent of the idea of Compassionate Conservatism. His 1993 book The Tragedy of American Compassion was picked up and used by Republicans such as William J. Bennett and Newt Gingrich as a smokescreen for cutting social programs. A New York Times magazine story in 1999 noted how Bush had said that “[Olasky] has really been one of the people who has been most helpful” to him in developing domestic welfare policies. When the reporter asked a Bush aide what a compassionate conservative administration might look like, he replied, “Talk to Marvin.”
While most criticism of Bush's initiative has focused on threats to the constitutional separation of church and state, the problems with this program go far beyond that. They also include the increasing privatization of government services, deregulation of the delivery of social services, weakening of public sector unions, and the development of a layer of hand-picked “leaders” in poor communities answerable not to the people they serve, but to the government and conservative foundations that provide their funding.
Massive social issues like health care, education, and poverty can't be properly addressed on a small-scale, piecemeal basis. By promoting the idea that social service is best carried out by private groups, faith-based funding undermines the principle that the government has any obligation to “promote the general welfare.” It replaces the concept of entitlement—of the right to government services—with the old, pre-1935 notion of religious charity. This leaves the government free to concentrate on its “proper” functions of protecting corporate interests at home and abroad—in other words, the repressive functions of the police and the military. Conveniently forgotten is the fact that government social programs sprang up precisely because private charity had failed miserably at providing a rudimentary social safety net.
Transferring the delivery of government services from the government to private agencies means weaker public sector unions as well as fewer living wage jobs for people of color. Government agencies are usually unionized, which means higher than average wages and benefits for the workers, many of whom are Black and Latino. Private religious agencies are rarely unionized. In the voucher schools, this has already meant lower wages, fewer benefits, and longer hours for teachers and other education workers. Public sector unions like AFSCME, AFGE, and the SEIU are also among the most socially progressive in the labor movement. It's no coincidence they are being targeted at exactly the same time that African American women are joining unions in the greatest numbers of any section of the population.
A wide range of religious groups also claim the right to refuse to hire lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgendered people, as well as anyone who may disagree with their views. Besides further oppressing an already oppressed community, this contributes to a reactionary atmosphere that legitimizes all forms of discrimination.
Under Charitable Choice, religious groups claim exemption from government licensing and performance standards. Faith-based day-care centers have also claimed exemption from health and safety laws. All this results in the lowering of standards in the delivery of social services to poor communities.
Finally, it will be the Republican Bush administration deciding which faith-based groups receive contracts, thus building up a layer of “leaders” beholden to it for their livelihood, while promoting the spread of the most socially conservative values in poor communities.
Frank Lott, a community college student in Richmond, VA, recently pointed out that this means poor churches will have to compete with each other for this funding, thus encouraging rivalries within the community as well as the increasing dependence of historically independent churches on government money. Further, with corporations receiving tax credits for their donations to the program, it means that “the wealthy will have more power over the church,” a sobering thought in light of the historically progressive role many of these churches have played in the Black freedom movement.
In many U.S. prisons, the only groups running rehabilitative programs are religious ones. Two of the largest are Prison Fellowship, run by Watergate figure Charles Colson, and programs operated by the Nation of Islam (NOI). Before the presidential primary in New Hampshire, Bush had indicated a willingness to work with the NOI. Later—a week before the important New York primary—Bush sharply reversed himself, condemning the NOI as a “hate” organization. Besides the fact that being all-Black doesn't make an organization a hate group any more than being all-women makes a feminist group sexist, the fact is that in recent years the NOI has shown an increasing openness to work with all races, including whites, to address issues of poverty and racism. It has also taken many positions at odds with the U.S. government on issues of foreign policy, especially concerning Cuba, Iraq, the Middle East in general, and Africa.
Meanwhile, Colson's group—on the right end of the political spectrum—is being regularly and favorably quoted in the media in coverage of faith-based funding.
A few years ago, the Bradley Foundation funded another conference in Milwaukee to promote the concept of faith-based funding. One of the key speakers was Robert L. Woodson, Sr. Woodson had recently traveled to Hartford, Connecticut—at the request of that city's chief of police—to denounce a group of community leaders protesting the police shooting of a Black teenager under suspicious circumstances. “You don't want to get involved in those kinds of protests,” Woodson sternly warned the mostly Black ministers in the audience. “That's not what you want to be doing.” Not if you're going to be applying for government contracts.
It's clear the Democrats cannot be relied on to stop this dangerous new initiative. They couldn't or wouldn't even stop the outright theft of the presidential election. But the objective basis is being laid for progressive religious groups, labor unions, civil rights and civil liberties organizations, and the progressive movement in general to unite around opposition to the illegitimate Bush administration and to rebuild the people's movement for fundamental social change. Z
Phil Wilayton is with the RightWatch Project in Richmond, Virginia.