05 October 2005

Franklin Graham steps lively onĀ CNN, refusing to blame New Orleans’s Mardi Gras hedonism for Katrina, and instead merely offering the destruction of the city as a prime opportunity for revival and redemption in a city of sin. More interesting than such posturing, however, is Graham’s broadly-expanded vision of the role, and rewards, for “faith-based initiatives.” Defending his dedication to the victims in New Orleans by citing the efforts of his organization, Samaritan’s Purse, to bring FEMA trailers to the city, Graham outlined a plan for church-controlled relief: FEMA ought to give the trailers to local churches — which could best determine which families need them most and manage the process more efficiently than could the federal government — and after a year, allow the churches to repossess the trailers and reuse or sell them as they see fit. “‘I don’t think the government should be in the trailer-park business,’” argued Graham. “‘I don’t think they know how to run a trailer park.’” Churches, one can only assume, do. It may seem a far cry from the original justifications for federally funding faith-based charities — that government programs can provide money and material support, but not the “love” that poor people need — to now argue that federally-owned emergency housing is best distributed by church officials who wish to renovate the sinful city’s “moral fiber,” but why question the vision of those motivated only by faith-filled love?