I have a rather hard time understanding why some would say that the taxpayers' money is being spent foolishly in regard to the City Council's decision to buy property to lease to the homeless shelter and FaithWorks.
The amount of money is 1/22 of the money from the cable sale. It would be property the city would still own in a community where real estate is appreciating, and the city would collect rent. The amount of money spent will not make any significant difference in the city's debt or taxes. It will help deal with a significant problem the community is facing that will only get more expensive.
We are always trying to tighten our belts on the poor and powerless. We made every effort to provide cable TV while neglecting to help our citizens with more basic needs.
The separation of church and state is a different matter. In the Jewish and Christian scriptures, the prophets were continually calling on the rulers and the people in political power to take care of the needy. I agree that in our society it can be a slippery slope.
We all have our own places where we want to draw a line in the sand. Locally, churches have been housed in school buildings. Our church allows secular groups (non-profit) to use our facilities. In light of a City Council meeting opened with a prayer, where most of the members eventually began to give some testimony to their faith, the bottom line seems to be more of the real issue. Government often coordinates with private ventures for "the good of the community."
Look at Turner Field in Atlanta - not to mention individuals who continually seem to benefit from local government projects and policies. Money talks and continually blurs the lines.
From welfare to food stamps to public education, government has sought to provide for people - with mixed results. My view of the separation of church and state is that it was meant to keep government from oppressing or regulating religion and to keep any one religious perspective from dominating public policy. I do not believe it was intended to keep communities from working together for the good of its people.
I would be in favor of coordinating with people of many different faiths who would step forward to shelter the homeless. The White House in 2001 set up the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives.
On July 18, 2007, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson said, "When non-profits and faith-based providers join forces with local political leaders, the result is powerful change in the way homeless families and individuals are served."
In 2006 HUD awarded $250 million to faith-based organizations. Mayor Ramsey claims that we may well expect both state and federal grants to help with our project. Let's seize the opportunity. It makes good business sense.
In my 21 years in the community, I have never seen pastors of churches so united on one issue. I know we pastors are always ready to speak but often rely on "our people" to get the real work done.
I hope we will put our efforts and money where our mouths are.
William B. Wade Jr. is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Covington.