Faith-based initiative causes controversy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Faith-based initiative causes controversy

Rev. Robert Beckum Rev. Robert Beckum
Sen. Michael Meyer Von Bremen Sen. Michael Meyer Von Bremen
Governor Perdue's Senate floor leader Dan Lee Governor Perdue's Senate floor leader Dan Lee
  • More WALB News10 HeadlinesMore News HeadlinesMore>>

  • GEMA offers 10 tips during extreme heat

    GEMA offers 10 tips during extreme heat

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:50 AM EDT2014-08-21 15:50:56 GMT
    A heat wave will make it feel like the temperature is over 100º in the next couple of days in South Georgia. The CDC says extreme heat is the top weather-related killer in the nation, claiming approximately 400 lives per year. More >>
    A heat wave will make it feel like the temperature is over 100º in the next couple of days in South Georgia. The CDC says extreme heat is the top weather-related killer in the nation, claiming approximately 400 lives per year. More >>
  • Educator, politician Earleen Sizemore passes

    Educator, politician Earleen Sizemore passes

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:50 AM EDT2014-08-21 15:50:55 GMT
    A woman who served as a superintendent of Worth County schools, and as a state representative in the Georgia legislator died Wednesday in Sylvester. Earleen Wilkerson Sizemore was 76, and died after a lengthy illness at Pruitt Health Sylvester.More >>
    A woman who served as a superintendent of Worth County schools, and as a state representative in the Georgia legislator died Wednesday in Sylvester. Earleen Wilkerson Sizemore was 76, and died after a lengthy illness at Pruitt Health Sylvester.More >>
  • Large bee hive being relocated from Valdosta business

    Large bee hive being relocated from Valdosta business

    Thursday, August 21 2014 11:45 AM EDT2014-08-21 15:45:09 GMT
    The bees have made a hive inside an exterior wall at the back of The Snake Pit and a bee keeper has set up a box on the outside of the wall next to the hive to collect the bees and has been working to relocate the bees for past couple of months.More >>
    The bees have made a hive inside an exterior wall at the back of The Snake Pit and a bee keeper has set up a box on the outside of the wall next to the hive to collect the bees and has been working to relocate the bees for past couple of months.
    More >>

January 15, 2004

Atlanta-- It passed unanimously in a Senate committee earlier this week, and Thursday, Senators voted 40-14 to approve a constitutional amendment to allow religious groups to compete for state dollars.

Governor Sonny Perdue has proposed legalizing state contracts with religious organizations that help the needy and poor. Opponents of the faith-based initiative are worried it will open the door to vouchers and put churches at the mercy of government bureaucrats.

Robert Beckum is the Senior Minister at First United Methodist Church in Albany. He's keeping a close watch on what's going on at the Capitol. "By the letter of the law faith-based institution cannot recieve tax dollars with the Blaine Amendment as it is right now," said Beckum.

Georgia's Blaine Amendment prohibits state funds to help out religious organizations. Beckum believes groups like the Albany Rescue Mission would be threatened if the amendment is not changed. "The people who would be hurt would be the neediest citizens in the state," the pastor says.

It's a controversial topic-- mixing church and state, but on the first day of the 2004 Georgia legislative session, lawmakers were greeted with a framed print of the 10 commandments. But Senator Michael Meyer Von Bremen says it's been a rushed deal; that the Rules Committee was surprised on Monday. "The first notice we got about it was at 3:00 when we walked into the committee room."

Governor Perdue's Senate floor leader Dan Lee disagrees. "I don't know where he's getting the idea that this thing is being rushed. This issue has been before people for a long, long time."

Lee says he introduced the bill a month ago. Meanwhile, like many religious leaders, Beckum, will wait and see. "I just think it's really imperative that it is resolves, otherwise a number of agencies that will not be able to function."

The faith-based initiative is expected to have a tougher time in the Democrat-controlled House. If passed, Georgia's Constitution would be in step with the U.S. constitution.

The Blaine Amendment has been a part of the Georgia constitution since the late nineteenth century. It was named after a Catholic United States Senator, James Blaine, of Maine.

posted at 6:00PM by dave.miller@walb.com