The President signed an executive order on February 5th to create a new White House office for faith-based programs and neighborhood partnerships, building upon the initiatives started by the Bush administration to administer social services to people “no matter their religious or political beliefs.” Why do we need this? Is it a nod to religious zealots who want more voice in governmental affairs? Is it an election payoff ? So now we have a twenty-six year old Ayatollah overseeing the disposition of taxpayer’s money. Will he decide whether or not religious groups that receive federal money for social service programs hire only those who share their religion? Has'nt history taught us anything about the participation of religion in governmental affairs? I’m sure there are more questions than answers in the signing of this executive order. Perhaps reflecting on the story of the camel's nose in the tent might provide some answers.
One cold night, as an Arab sat in his tent, a camel gently thrust his nose under the flap and looked in. "Master," he said, "let me put my nose in your tent. It's cold and stormy out here." "By all means," said the Arab, "and welcome" as he turned over and went to sleep.
A little later the Arab awoke to find that the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also. The camel, who had been turning his head from side to side, said, "I will take but little more room if I place my forelegs within the tent. It is difficult standing out here." "Yes, you may put your forelegs within," said the Arab, moving a little to make room, for the tent was small.
Finally, the camel said, "May I not stand wholly inside? I keep the tent open by standing as I do." "Yes, yes," said the Arab. "Come wholly inside. Perhaps it will be better for both of us." So the camel crowded in. The Arab with difficulty in the crowded quarters again went to sleep. When he woke up the next time, he was outside in the cold and the camel had the tent to himself.