What “Faith-Based Initiatives” do to faith-based ministries

The New York Times is reporting a predictable side-effect of the Bush administration’s approach to church and state.

Behind the walls of federal prisons nationwide, chaplains have been quietly carrying out a systematic purge of religious books and materials that were once available to prisoners in chapel libraries. The chaplains were directed by the Bureau of Prisons to clear the shelves of any books, tapes, CDs and videos that are not on a list of approved resources.

Step one is to persuade the credulous that religion needs government help. Step two is to give government help to the church and get them to depend on it. Step three is to start eliminating people’s access to religious views that are not “on the approved list.” Continue until religious freedom is relegated to a historical footnote.