So the Christian Coalitian wants to attack what it perceives as our nation's problems while just incidentally providing a windfall of tax dollars to religious organizations. This would be done by allowing taxpayers to "designate on their taxes a limited amount to qualified private charities." Then what happens is that the preachers instruct their flocks to direct their taxes toward the church-run day-care or similar enterprise. Shortly thereafter the church gets a fat government check. This isn't such a bad contract, if you're in the religion business.
But wait - there's more. The churches will also have an important role to play in tax-funded education. The Contract endorses voucher programs and/or tuition tax credits to encourage parents to send their children to schools where they can avoid the mainstream of society and instead be spoonfed a narrow, "parochial" view of reality. In Northern Ireland they have Catholic and Protestant schools. In the Christian Coalition's America, we could expect separate private (but tax-supported) schools for everybody from Anabaptists to Zoroastrians, leaving only atheists in public schools. Vouchers will do many inner city students little good, when the nearest desirable school is way across town, and poor people need tax credits like the Pope needs tickets to a Marilyn Manson concert.
The churches will also help reform criminals, if only the government will provide the funding. Decrying the availability of cable TV and exercise facilities to prison inmates, the Contract urges Congress to "encourage the states to instill work and study requirements for prisoners," with prison literacy programs to be run by "private charities and church ministries." There is little in the Contract With the American Family that can be taken seriously. The Contract does support efforts to encourage retirement savings by homemeakers, increasing their deductible IRA contributions, but even this does nothing for families which can't afford IRAs.
This failure to address in a realistic way the needs of the most imperilled families, threatened by unemployment, violence, poor housing, lack of health care and drug addiction, prevents the Contract from being considered as anything more than a Rush Limbaughesque fantasy.
Copyright 1998 by Patrick Inniss. All rights reserved.