FEMA has announced plans to use taxpayer money to reimburse churches for charitable work performed for survivors of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The operation, dubbed as 'Pennies From Heaven', will mark the first time that payments have ever been made to the 'faith based community' for assisting with disaster relief.

Many of the eligible churches feel that the offer of payment is inappropriate. "Charitable deeds are just that - charitable deeds," said Reverend Bob E Bonner, of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board. "You take the money and the act is gone."

Not all agree. The Reverend Elmer Gantry of Bridgeport calls Bonner a bonehead. "We're in the business of preaching The Word," Gantry says firmly. "Not housing and feeding a bunch of wretched homeless people. That stuff costs money and detracts from our mission.. What? You think religion is for suckers and easy marks and molly-coddlers, eh? You think Jesus was some kind of a sissy, hey? Well, let me tell you, Jesus wouldn't be afraid to walk into FEMA or any other agency to ask for money. Jesus had guts. He wasn't afraid of the whole Roman army. Now let me change the subject, as it is my prerogative to do so. Take a look at your favorite football team. Think that quarterback's hot stuff? Well, let me tell you, Jesus would have made the best little All-American quarterback in the history of football. Jesus was a real fighter - the best little scrapper, pound for pound, you ever saw."

"What the hell are you talking about," we inquired.

"Hell? You speak of Hell? Sin. Sin sin sin. You're all sinners. You're all doomed to perdition. You're all goin' to the painful, stinkin', scaldin', everlastin' tortures of a fiery hell, created by God for sinners, unless, unless, unless you repent. And then give me fifty dollars."

FEMA also announced plans to reimburse 'at the standard rate' all members of the 'music based community' who performed at Katrina relief concerts.

"Just my luck," said Jimmy Buffett, one of the unlucky recipients. "Here I was, hoping to use it as a tax write-off".

2005, Mark Hoback