Bishop T.D. Jakes, a prominent Dallas pastor and author, has voiced serious concerns about President George W. Bush's much-touted "faith-based" initiative.
Agapepress reported Aug. 18 that Jakes, pastor of Potter's House Church, has declared that churches accepting federal funds should set up separate entities to carry out publicly funded social services.
"We don't want to end up in a situation where the government is telling us what to preach or how to minister," Jakes told the evangelical news service, "and so, in order to facilitate that, I think there ought to be firewalls set up."
The pastor of the 28,000-member, predominantly African-American congregation says his church has not taken government funds. He suggests that houses of worship might set up separate nonprofit groups if they want to operate social services with federal dollars. "We need to be careful," Jakes says, "that we make sure we do not merge the message with the outreach."
Jakes has advised the Bush administration on its faith-based initiative, and he can hardly be described as hostile to the administration. Bush once lauded him as a "social entrepreneur." But the Texas pastor recognizes the danger when government and religion get too entangled.
That's something Americans United and our allies have been arguing for years. It's good to hear Bishop Jakes issue a reminder as well.