I remember George Bush the Younger’s novel idea of shifting welfare funding to faith-based charities. What a marvelous idea, I thought. It didn’t happen then due to special interest and bureaucratic interference, but it has happened, not exactly as envisioned by W, but possibly even better.

During recent hurricane disasters, faith-based charities, specifically Christian nonprofit organizations like Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse, provided a stunning 80% of disaster relief compared to FEMA’s 20%.

If it is smaller government we want, no doubt We the People must be more self-reliant and more reliant upon one another, and waste not a second to jump in and help our neighbors when they are in need and disaster strikes, whether it strikes an entire community or just one family or one person.

Imagine the good that could be done if welfare, food stamp, and all other charitable federal and state funding were shifted from government to faith-based volunteer charities. The fraud in our government social welfare systems would disappear overnight, drastically reducing the cost of those programs. I am guessing that with no more than 20% of the funding that goes into our government-run, rife-with-corruption welfare programs, churches at the local level could reach more needy people and the help would be overwhelmingly superior than government assistance.

For years, my wife and I ran a Thursday soup kitchen for our church. The program cost was very little, as we were unpaid volunteers. We also solicited and received food donations from local grocers that cut costs to a minimum. We already had a commercial kitchen in our church and a large dining hall. We fed about 100 people per meal, most of them regulars. We got to know many of them personally and still consider them friends.

“Just goes to show: Where charity exists, government is not needed,” rightly declares The Washington Times.

Look at this, from the Daily Caller: “Faith-based relief groups are responsible for providing nearly 80 percent of the aid delivered thus far to communities with homes devastated by the recent hurricanes.”

The piece cited USA Today, which ran a headline: “Faith groups provide the bulk of disaster recovery, in coordination with FEMA.”

Imagine that. When disaster strikes, it’s Americans — specifically, Americans of faith — who lend the quickest hands, who provide the most assistance.

As USA Today noted, the Seventh Day Adventists took charge of disbursing bottles of water, diapers, clothing and other material needs.

The United Methodist Committee on Relief sent out the after-disaster work crews to help with cleanup — which includes everything from pulling mud from homes to assisting victims file their claims forms to government and insurance entities. The Convoy of Hope helped feed the masses, arriving on scene in the south with trucks upon trucks of food, even before Irma hit. Samaritan’s Purse, the Rev. Franklin Graham’s organization, brought everything from food to chainsaws. Post-storm, the same group will help victims rebuild their homes.

And while FEMA is on scene, too, it’s the Christian groups and faith-based organizations who’ve taken the lead.

“FEMA, they have been a big blessing to us, they’re an assistance to us,” said Luther Harrison, vice president of North American Ministries at Samaritan’s Purse, in USA Today. “For Hurricane Irma, the majority of our equipment across the border and FEMA was instrumental in helping us clear that with customs and getting all the paperwork done.”

And perhaps most crucial to the cleanup is manpower — something the faith groups bring in droves. United Methodist, for example, has 20,000 or so trained volunteers around the nation, standing at the ready to serve as early responders. All they need is the call — all they need is to be activated — and they’re there.

There’s a critical point to note here, and it goes like this: Big Government types would have it believed that government, and only government, can save the citizens from disasters.

But before Big Government, there was the Citizenry.

And people who put God first, people who are committed to serving Jesus, people who are driven by a moral compass that comes from above, are the real doers and shakers and movers — the ones who see a need and respond. The Big Government types?

They see a need and dial their lawmaker — call for a committee hearing — petition for a study. It’s only after they navigate the hoops, and fill out the proper forms, they respond.

America’s greatness was, is and always will be rooted in the fact that our rights come from God, not government. With that, comes a responsibility — that we conduct ourselves on an individual basis as if we believe in God. Bluntly put, it’s what the founders believed; it’s how they envisioned a moral and limited government not just shaping, but staying around a while. Happily, it’s what a large portion of America’s population today still believes.

But let’s not miss the even bigger lesson that can be gleaned here. If you want to reel in government and curb the bureaucracy, you have to make the services government provides irrelevant. And the way to do that is provide them privately.

The way to a limited government is through a charitable citizenry.