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FEMA Directing Donations to Pat Robertson
by aw
Friday Sep 2nd, 2005 6:45 PM
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the lead federal agency in the rescue & recovery operation at work in New Orleans and the Mississippi gulf coast.

Fri Sep 02, 2005
FEMA Directing Donations to Pat Robertson


The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the lead federal agency in the rescue & recovery operation at work in New Orleans and the Mississippi gulf coast.

FEMA has released to the media and on its Web site a list of suggested charities to help the storm’s hundreds of thousands of victims. The Red Cross is first on the list.

The Rev. Pat Robertson’s "Operation Blessing" is next on the list. Robertson founded "Operation Blessing" in 1978.

Robertson’s shell organizations have already collected more than $25 million from the federal government under various "faith based" federal-handout programs. And with millions of distraught citizens looking to FEMA for help in finding reputable organizations to help Katrina survivors, Robertson stands to profit magnificently from the horror that has fallen on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
§FEMA Promotes Pat Robertson Charity
by Democracy Now (reposted) Friday Sep 9th, 2005 7:26 AM
Soon after Hurricane Katrina crashed onto the Gulf Coast, the Federal Emergency Management Agency promoted a list of charities on its website that were accepting donations for hurricane relief. Dozens of media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN and the Associated Press, duly reprinted FEMA's list. The top three charities listed were: the Red Cross, Operation Second Harvest and Operation Blessing, which was founded by Christian televangelist Pat Robertson. At a news conference Thursday, FEMA chief Michael Brown was questioned about the issue.


Sept. 2 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government released a list of charitable groups collecting contributions to help Hurricane Katrina victims that is dominated by religious organizations and excludes many secular and international relief groups.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency list was posted on the agency's Web site and published in major newspapers yesterday. After the American Red Cross, which was named first, the next organization was Operation Blessing, a group based in Virginia Beach, Virginia and founded by televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson.

``How in the heck did that happen?'' said Richard Walden, president of Operation USA, a Los Angeles-based secular group that has been conducting disaster relief work since 1979 and was not on FEMA's list. ``That gives Pat Robertson millions of extra dollars.''

FEMA spokeswoman Barbara Ellis didn't return three phone calls seeking comment. Alyssa McClenning, a White House spokeswoman who handles inquiries for its office of faith-based programs, said any questions ``should be directed at FEMA.''

Donations for hurricane relief efforts have topped $93 million so far, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. President George W. Bush, in remarks on the hurricane over the past two days, has encouraged contributions to the Red Cross, the nation's oldest relief agency. He also has promoted organizations affiliated with churches and religious groups.

``Government agencies are working with faith-based and community groups to find shelters for thousands of displaced persons,'' Bush, who supports giving government grants to religious organizations for social programs, said yesterday.

Secular Groups

Besides the American Red Cross, the only other secular group listed on FEMA's Web site is Chicago-based America's Second Harvest, which is one of the nation's biggest hunger-relief organizations. The list includes relief groups representing most major denominations and religions, including Lutherans, Presbyterians, Jews, Baptists and Catholics, as well as the Salvation Army.

At the bottom of the FEMA Web site list is a statement saying that ``this list of organizations is provided by the National Organization of Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster'' and that ``listing of or omission of an institution or organization on this Web site does not refer to programmatic capability nor does it confer any official status, approval, or endorsement of the institution or organization.''

The American Council for Voluntary International Action, a Washington-based umbrella group for international relief agencies, says 29 of the 160 organizations in its network are responding to the disaster. ``Most of them are not on this list,'' said Jim Bishop, director of humanitarian policy and practice. ``Some of them are upset.''

Registered With FEMA

Kristin Vischer, a spokeswoman for Robertson's group, said Operation Blessing is registered with FEMA. ``That's probably one of the reasons we're there,'' she said. ``We've been working with FEMA since at least Sept. 11 on disaster relief,'' she said, referring to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Robertson, 75, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 1988, recently sparked controversy by suggesting that the U.S. assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He issued an apology for his remarks Aug. 24.

Walden said the FEMA list will be a major influence on where charitable donations are directed.

Impact on Donations

``If you're on the list from day one or two it means the difference between having a significant amount of financial resources to do your work or not having it and having only to go to your traditional donors,'' he said.

Matthew De Galan, chief development officer at MercyCorps, a secular relief and development organization in Portland, Oregon, agreed that the omission could hurt efforts to raise money.

``If you're left off the FEMA list and you don't get in the newspaper, there is the potential to lose some critical resources,'' De Galan said. He said his group is raising a record amount of money despite the omission and said he doesn't ascribe any motives to the content of the list.

``Disasters are chaotic things. People have lots of decisions to make quickly,'' he said. ``It doesn't seem to us not being on the list has hurt us significantly.'' The group raised at least $500,000 yesterday, he said.

Walden said the list is a departure from how the administration has handled previous disasters.

``To my knowledge they have never done it before with such a narrowly focused list of religious groups, some of whom are not known for being relief groups,'' Walden said. ``It looks like they were chosen for one of each religion.''

Beth Walsh, communications director for AmeriCares, an international relief group based in Stamford, Connecticut, called the published list ``odd.''

She said AmeriCares has asked FEMA to be included.

``We haven't gotten a response yet,'' she said.

De Galan said his organization has made a similar request.
by BBSNews
Friday Sep 2nd, 2005 6:58 PM
FFRF via BBSNews 2005-09-02 -- The national Freedom From Religion Foundation has asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to immediately remove "Operation Blessing" from its list of endorsed charities to donate cash to for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Operation Blessing, an evangelical Christian charity, was founded by Rev. Pat ("take him out") Robertson. Robertson still serves on its national board.

Operation Blessing is given a place of prominence at the FEMA website. Operation Blessing appears third on a list of charities overwhelmingly dominated by religious groups.

The governmental endorsement of Operation Blessing has been a media boon for the Christian group, with wire services, newspapers, television and other media widely publicizing FEMA's promotion of it.

Operation Blessing describes its mission as seeking "to exemplify Christian compassion and benevolence while conforming to the highest standards of integrity."

Surely, before FEMA refers citizens to Operation Blessing, it should expect that a board "conforming to the highest standards of integrity" would have long ago expelled Pat Robertson.

Rev. Robertson has deeply shamed the country by his notorious suggestion that the United States ought to assassinate Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. This unforgivable remark is just the latest in a long string of embarrassing and outlandish pronouncements, such as his 2003 suggestion that "maybe we need a very small nuke thrown" at State Department offices.

While the secular American Red Cross is deservedly first on the list of FEMA-endorsed charities, followed by the secular America's Second Harvest, there appear to be only two other groups of the list of 21 charities which are secular.

The American Red Cross has a Congressional charter to provide assistance to victims of catastrophes. It does not care if recipients are Baptists, Hindus or atheists. Its mission is solely "to provide relief to victims of disasters and help people prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies" and it does not proselytize victims.

By contrast, Operation Blessing, which was founded by evangelist Robertson in 1978, boasts a fundamentalist Christian Statement of Faith. Any assistance which it may provide has the agenda of promoting the bible, belief in the trinity, the imminent return of Jesus Christ, and worldwide evangelization.

While FEMA might certainly include a sentence encouraging U.S. citizens to give to the charities of their choice, FEMA swims into dangerous waters when it starts selecting some denominational charities, while leaving out others. FEMA appears to be using its governmental power and prestige to endorse some religions and ignore others.

Most egregiously, FEMA's list overwhelmingly endorses religious over secular charities.

Believers are free to give to the churches and religious agencies of their choice, but it is not appropriate for our federal government to be telling them to do so. Should we not be donating as Americans to help other Americans, regardless of faith or lack of faith?

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has donated to American Red Cross 2005 Hurricane Season Relief, reiterates its advice that freethinkers and the public donate to the secular Red Cross, which is in the stricken areas, does not ask recipients their religion or pray at them while giving them help, and has the massive operation necessary to provide practical assistance.

Read the Freedom From Religion Foundation's letter to FEMA.

Complain! Contact FEMA:

Michael D. Brown
Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness & Response
500 C St, SW
Washington DC 20172

The Department of Homeland Security (which FEMA is part of) has an indirect way to email comments:

Or phone the Department of Homeland Security Comment Line: 1-202-282-8495
by UK Guardian (reposted)
Monday Sep 5th, 2005 9:42 PM
God's punishment theory spreads

Duncan Campbell in Baton Rouge
Tuesday September 6, 2005
The Guardian

"They say that this is God's retribution for New Orleans being a sinful city," said Jason Smith, a chaplain with the inter-denominational Victim Relief organisation, many of whose members have been deployed to the New Orleans area. "I don't go along with that. God did not cause this; he allowed it to happen. I have had a lot of people asking me 'why did God do this to me?' and I tell them that God is with them today."

Ever since it became clear how much damage Hurricane Katrina had caused, there has been no shortage of people pronouncing authoritatively on talk radio across the United States and in blogs on exactly whom and what God was punishing. The choice of who is to blame ranges from abortionists to the US government for failing to support the settlers in Israel, from the drivers of SUVs who use up too much petrol to all Americans for going to war in Iraq.

Meanwhile, faith-based organisations and religious groups, preachers and chaplains have flocked to the disaster area. Some quietly offer what is necessary in terms of water or access to a mobile phone, others ponder the religious significance of Katrina.

Sitting in a Portakabin outside the River Centre in Baton Rouge, where thousands of evacuees are being housed, Jason Smith, a Baptist from Dallas, Texas, said he was likely to be there for weeks. "There have been some very sad stories," he said. "We talked to one young woman who had tucked her four-year-old into bed and after the storm had come her crib was empty."

There are 300-400 Scientology ministers who have arrived and plan to stay for weeks, too. Larry Byrnes, who was wearing the distinctive Church of Scientology minister T-shirt, said they had mounted similar operations in New York after September 11, in Sri Lanka after the tsunami and also in Israel and Africa. "We were the first on the scene at Punto Gordo [where the hurricane struck in Florida] last year." Did he encounter any resistance from people of other religions or none?

"There's no religious aspect towards helping someone," he said. "There's no intolerance of other people's views. People rise to the occasion. In that sense, it's a religious experience because religion means bringing people together.",16441,1563547,00.html
by HP (reposted)
Saturday Sep 10th, 2005 8:15 AM
In 2001, newly appointed FEMA director Joe Allbaugh characterized his agency as "an oversized entitlement program," and advised states and cities to rely instead on "faith-based organizations." Through the handiwork of his successor and former college roommate, Mike Brown, Allbaugh's recommendations have been implemented. Anyone seeking guidance from FEMA on ways to help hurricane victims would have found only two secular groups on the agency's list of organizations accepting donations for hurricane relief work. Among groups FEMA did promote was Pat Robertson's Operation Blessing, a tax-exempt non-profit which Robertson has used in the past to bilk donors to advance his shadowy

financial partnerships with African dictators. As Robertson raked in contributions throughout last weekend, his daily TV program, the 700 Club, attacked "the mindset" of New Orleans evacuees. I detailed Robertson's hurricane hustle for the Nation...


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