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"Don't Mess with Gravy"
The Star, February 19, 2001

By Terry Paulson, PhD

I could not agree more with so many interviewed for your article on faith-based service programs. I support the Bush plan to let religious groups compete more easily with secular groups for government grants, but no such service should accept funds if it means compromising their evangelical mission or watering down the faith ingredients that have helped make them successful.

My good friend and fellow professional speaker, Frank Maguire, loves to talk about one of the things that would drive Colonel Sanders to a tirade. Whenever he would accompany his boss to visit one of his Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants, the Colonel would immediately go to the gravy. He would stick in his pinkie and taste it. He knew a secret that got people to come back—the quality of the gravy. He had a mantra he insisted on repeating—"Don't mess with the gravy!"

The churches, synagogues, and mosques that compete for government grants on the basis of making a difference for those they serve should not have to "mess with the gravy." The great value of the freedom of religion that our founding fathers so strongly stood for has come to mean freedom from religion. It is time for America reassert the importance of faith and religion in providing the moral compass and strength so many people value.

The separation of church and state was based on the fact that the founding fathers did not want to establish any one faith as "The American Religion." Most Americans would agree with that concern. Our challenge is to make sure that Washington does not limit grants to any one faith group, religion or denomination. We should however encourage government support and funding for any faith-based group that is effectively making a difference, and then we should resist any attempts to change the recipe for what has made them effective. Don't mess with the gravy!

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