Loren Leman wrote a good letter about government and faith-based inititatives. I agreed with his assessment that social welfare programs have been largely unsuccessful, and that faith initiatives often show quality success. It's been my experience that people with problems with alcohol, sex abuse, violence and who've been in the prison system often turn to some form of spiritual guidance. Whether it's Christianity, Islamic, Budhistic or Native American spiritual values, they come out a stronger, healthier person. It's often the only thing that makes a change.
Meanwhile, endless amounts of money are focused on outdated social correctional and preventitive measures. Some anti-drug campaigns in schools work. Most don't. Why? It's my opinion that many of the social programs in schools are run by the grant cycle, which often involves fudging of numbers and unsubstantiated claims. To get a grant in the social program world, you have to make claims larger than your actual scope. Any positive trend, such as increase in test scores, graduation rates, or decrease in drop-out rates, are attributed to the success of any social organization.
This also leads, dangerously, to hiding numbers that don't show positive trends. Some research shows DARE, the popular anti-drug program from the '90s, actuallyshowed an adverse effect. More kids did drugs after going through the program. That could've been caused by anything, a natural trend, rebel psychology, or that DARE just wasn't effective. But the facts get hidden.
It is not the function of government to proprogandize any belief system. If only it wasn't in the way so much. With an open mind, government programs and faith-based intitiatives can co-exist. We have to spend six hours a day in schools and nine hours a day at work, with Sundays neatly fit in the schedule for reflection. Wouldn't it be nice to have a small part of the day allowed for reverence?
Ishmael C. Hope
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