SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE
2-23-2001 - I found this in my journal today.
6-20-95 - DREAM - I was being taught about independence from a
On the right was a woman explaining to me what independence meant
I was pretty sure the woman was Rosalyn Carter.
After I found the dream in my journal, I looked on the internet and found this:
These quotes courtesy of this page on the topic of Separation of Church and State
I believe in the separation of church and state and would not use my authority to violate this principle in any way. (Jimmy Carter, 39th U. S. President [1977-1981], in a letter to Jack V. Harwell, August 11, 1977, according to Albert Menendez and Edd Doerr, compilers, The Great Quotations on Religious Liberty, Long Beach, CA: Centerline Press, 1991, p. 17.)
We believe in separation of church and state, that there should be no unwarranted influence on the church or religion by the state, and vice versa. (Jimmy Carter, 39th President [1977-1981], in a news conference in Warsaw, Poland, reported by New York Times, December 31, 1977 [p. 2], according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1977: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1978, p. 479.)
I think the government ought to stay out of the religious business. (Jimmy Carter, 39th U.S. President [1977-1981], The New York Times, April 8, 1979. From Daniel B. Baker, ed., Political Quotations, Detroit: Gale Research, Inc., 1990, p. 191.)
I'm a Southern Baptist, and I have always believed in a total separation of church and state. And I think the interjection of religion into politics is not good for this country....I don't accept human definitions of what I have to believe, you know, to be a Christian. (Jimmy Carter, 39th President [1977-1981], interview, USA Today, May 12, 1986, p. A-11, according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1986: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1987, p. 458.)
[Defending Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis in re to the Pledge of Allegiance]: I have a great respect for the flag, [but] if the government ... passed a law saying that I had to pledge allegiance to the flag, I don't think I would do it. I've always felt that I lived in a country ... where if I wanted to worship God as a Baptist I could do so. If I were an atheist, I could be one. If I wanted to be a Catholic but was born a Jew, there's no condemnation ... from a government authority. (Jimmy Carter, 39th President [1977-1981], at Emory University, Atlanta, September 14, 1988, as reported in the Los Angeles Times on September 16, 1988, p. I-17, according to Alan F. Pater and Jason R. Pater, compilers and editors, What They Said in 1988: The Yearbook of Spoken Opinion, Beverly Hills, CA: Monitor Book Co., 1989, p. 217.)
October 28, 2002
With 1,500 people in the audience and an equal number not able to get in to the one-day conference, the Bush Administration took their Faith Based Community Initiative to Atlanta, Georgia October 10th.
The message was straight-forward. We are not here to fund your ministry. We are here to fund the good works you do for your fellow Americans. Sighting Mother Teresas admonition, The worst disease is Loneliness; the White House team told the audience:
Grants are based on the delivering services to the poor and those in need and there is
Not to a specific religion,
Not for a mission statement,
Not on Gross Profits,
Not on Grass Roots,
Not on being a neighborhood helper,
Not being a large company,
Not being a small company.
Grants are huge:
Total for 2002: Over $300 Billion
Medical: Over $100 Billion
Universities: Over $30 Billion
Highway: Over $25 Billion
Needy Families: Over $15 Billion
Grants are based upon effective programs;
Specifically, the way to proceed it to:
Research available funding,
Communicate quickly with federal agencies,
Be specific; site the government's numeric listing of a program,
Take advantage of federal education programs on doing business with the government,
Follow the application process,
Attend pre-application workshops,
Ask for help, when you need it,
Stay in contact with the Program Office.
Speakers pointed to attendees beginning the process with an honest assessment of their talents and assets. Specifically, identifying available resources and capabilities. Then determine how your organization fits with the eligibility programs.
A final admonition from speakers was not to look at this program as a way to start a new business that will occasionally participate in faith Based assistance. The grant process must meet all of the government legal requirements.
President Bushs position in starting the Faith-Based Community Initiative is to allow large and small organizations; secular and faith-based organizations; to compete on a level playing field.
Mr. Jp Leskie
CEO & Founder, Jp Leskie & Associates
©2002 - Aristotle Institute - All Rights Reserved.
Friday August 17 5:40 PM ET
Faith-Based Initiative Head Resigns
By LAURA MECKLER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - The embattled leader of President Bush ``faith-based initiative'' is resigning after seven controversial months, leaving at a crucial time for Bush's effort to open government programs to religious groups.
A lifelong Democrat, John DiIulio had been a force for the compromise that will be needed to turn the legislation into law.
Last month the House approved a bill opening 10 programs to churches, synagogues and other religious groups. But the measure attracted little Democratic support, and no legislation has been introduced in the Senate, where Democrats are in control.
DiIulio, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said he was leaving for health and personal reasons, and he said he had intended to assess his position after six months.
But he was also frustrated at times by the politics within the White House and worn down by the battering from liberal and conservative groups alike.
``At one level it's all the things the American people find distasteful. Things that should be bipartisan can turn partisan. Things that should bring people together divide them,'' he said. ``The good news is that leadership ultimately trumps that.''
Overweight and overworked, the the 43-year-old said he's also exhausted from his commute several times a week from Philadelphia, where he is on leave from the University of Pennsylvania and where his wife and three children live. Since February, he's been a regular fixture on the 4:05 a.m. train from Philadelphia to Washington. ``It can run you ragged,'' he said.
He said he was pleased to have completed a report assessing the barriers religious groups face, which was released Thursday. And he said he was satisfied that Bush's legislation is alive. ``My goal was not to see it pass the Senate. My goal was to see it pass the House,'' he said.
He added that he has ``total trust and confidence'' in both Sen. Joseph Lieberman (news - bio - voting record), D-Conn., who is working on his own version of the legislation, and the president.
``I'm just a little teeny, tiny insignificant speck of a man.'' He then added with characteristic humor: ``Well, I'm kind of fat.''
Lieberman was one of many who praised DiIulio, who attracted affection if not support from many Democratic groups.
``John DiIulio was given a very difficult and complicated challenge in shaping and moving the president's faith-based plan,'' Lieberman said in a statement. ``He leaves having done a remarkable job in advancing this critically important cause in a short time.''
Officials inside and outside the administration said DiIulio was often frustrated by the politics within the White House. A religious conservative, Don Eberly, already had the No. 2 job in the faith-based office when DiIulio arrived, and the two clashed on a regular basis. And while DiIulio wanted to move the legislation slowly in order to build support from Democrats, others in the White House wanted to push it through the House to build momentum.
As he departs, conservatives are angry that the White House has compromised too much, but Democrats say it's still not enough.
The hope was that DiIulio's ties to Democrats would help win their support, said Marvin Olasky, an early Bush adviser on this issue. ``But so far he hasn't been able to do that at all,'' he said.
The Bush initiative has been attacked by conservatives and liberals alike.
Liberals say government will wind up paying for religious activity, breaching the constitutional separation between church and state. Conservatives say government funding could lead to government intrusion on churches, and that tax dollars might wind up with non-mainstream religious groups.
DiIulio regularly complained that critics were focusing on the extreme cases and ignoring the good work that religious people can accomplish. And he hit back directly at some conservative critics, calling them ``predominantly white, exurban, evangelical and national parachurch leaders'' who should not presume to speak for all religious people.
John Bridgeland, a Bush domestic policy adviser, said DiIulio did a good job balancing an issue that generates a lot of emotion. ``He handled it beautifully,'' said Bridgeland, who is being talked about as a possible replacement. He said officials are exploring ways of keeping DiIulio involved in the issue after he leaves.
DiIulio, who earns $140,000 per year, will be the first high-profile Bush appointee to leave the administration. He said he expects to leave within several weeks, though he has not set a firm date.
Thursday August 16 5:42 PM ET
Report: Grants Biased Vs. Religious
By LAURA MECKLER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) - Federal officials routinely discriminate against religious groups when handing out grant money, taking constitutional concerns about the separation of church and state too far, the White House contended in a report Thursday.
Head Start centers shouldn't be forced to remove religious signs from walls, the report says, and housing regulations shouldn't bar organizations dubbed ``primarily religious'' from participating in community development programs.
The report, based on data from five federal departments, reiterates many of the points White House officials have made for months as they campaign to direct more government money to religious groups.
Until now, that campaign has focused on getting Congress to pass legislation opening government's doors wider to churches, synagogues and other ``faith-based organizations.'' With this report, the White House is arguing that federal agencies have the power under current law but often act as if they don't.
``It is not Congress but these overly restrictive agency rules that are repressive, restrictive and which actively undermine the established civil rights of these groups,'' the report concludes.
The report repeatedly asserts that it is unconstitutional for these agencies to discriminate against religious organizations, although that point is widely debated and far from settled.
For many years, the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to give taxpayer dollars to ``pervasively sectarian'' organizations, to keep government from establishing religion or intruding upon it.
In recent years, the court has opened the door to funding of some religious groups, but so far the court has stopped short of abandoning its earlier, more restrictive rulings.
Asked about this debate, Bush domestic policy adviser John Bridgeland said that's why legislation is needed - to make it clear that religious groups can get the money. In the meantime, he said, departments may suggest policy changes.
President Bush (news - web sites), who ordered the report, suggested regulatory action might be coming.
``We now see exactly what kind of obstacles stand in the way of a more compassionate America,'' he said in a statement. ``We look forward to addressing these inequities through legislation, administrative action and education.''
Titled ``Unlevel Playing Field,'' the report includes information from five agencies - Health and Human Services (news - web sites), Education, Labor, Justice and Housing and Urban Development - each of which searched for institutional barriers that prevent religious and community-based groups from taking part in government programs.
Some agencies, the report says, put religious groups into two categories: ``too religious'' and ``secular enough.'' Where participation is not banned outright, it says, religious organizations often face an ``unwelcoming environment.''
Civil liberties groups responded that established law is being followed.
``What they call barriers, most people would call the Constitution of the United States,'' said the Rev. Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State. ``Highly trained, nonpartisan government employees are trying to obey the Constitution as written, not the fanciful interpretation the White House wishes for.''
The broader question - whether religious groups should be allowed to offer more programs with government money - has been the subject of a six-month debate in Congress. Legislation approved by the House would make it clear that such groups may compete for grants without putting aside their own religious character. The matter is pending in the Senate.
The report also concluded:
-It is hard to measure precisely how much federal money religious groups now get, though anecdotally it appears they get very little. That is partly because they choose not to apply for it, fearing they will be forced to strip away their religious character.
-Federal officials have largely ignored ``charitable choice'' laws, which open government welfare, drug treatment and community development programs. They have done little to help states and local governments comply with the new rules.
-Very little is done to measure how well the groups that get the bulk of government money actually perform, meaning there's little rationale for giving the same groups the big contracts every year.
-Cumbersome regulations and requirements make it hard for smaller organizations - both religious and secular - to participate in federal programs.
February 20, 2001
Bush's Call to Church Groups to Get Untraditional Replies
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Tim Shaffer for The New York Times
Joseph Fabio at the Food for Life halfway house in Philadelphia, where he is a resident and Brandie Chandler is a case manager.
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 13 After eight years in prison, Joseph Fabio now lives in a halfway house next to a funeral home here, where counselors have helped him steer clear of drugs, find a job in a gas station and contain the uncontrollable anger that earned him a murder sentence at age 18.
His three months in the program have been "a blessing," Mr. Fabio said, and like many other residents, he said his only complaint was that for some reason the kitchen served nothing but vegetarian food. When he was told that the cuisine was restricted because this halfway house was affiliated with the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, better known as the Hare Krishnas, Mr. Fabio looked as if he had been ambushed by "Candid Camera."
"They're around still?" he asked, recalling having seen monks in saffron robes in airports years ago. "I didn't know."
For almost 20 years, Hare Krishna devotees in Philadelphia have received millions of dollars in government contracts to run a network of services, including a shelter for homeless veterans, transitional homes for recovering addicts and this halfway house for parolees.
The unusual collaboration between government agencies and a religious group that depicts God as a baby-faced boy with blue skin offers a glimpse of the challenges ahead for President Bush's initiative to expand government support for social service programs run by religious organizations.
Mr. Bush's new White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives officially opens for business on Feb. 20. The president says religious programs will be judged not on their beliefs but on the results of their work.
"We do not impose any religion," Mr. Bush said at a prayer breakfast on Feb. 1. "We welcome all religion."
The president's assertion may be questioned in the coming days. While established charitable programs, like those run by Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army, are expected to have little trouble winning further government support, it is the smaller programs run by less traditional faiths that are likely to test the president's promise to avoid discriminating on the basis of belief, and the public's acceptance of his approach. Devoting government money to selected religious programs also runs the risk of sparking conflict. Already, one group has tried to prevent another from being allowed to participate.
Mr. Bush signed the executive orders establishing his initiative flanked by a score of Christian ministers, two Jewish leaders and a Muslim imam, and hailed the event as a "picture of the strength and diversity" of the country. But if the religious portrait of the nation were a great stained-glass window, those leaders would represent only a few large pieces of glass.
Now, members of a wide variety of religious groups, some once considered far outside the mainstream, are busy preparing proposals for government financing to support the kinds of programs that Mr. Bush has said he will make his focus: literacy, sexual abstinence and substance abuse. The Church of Scientology plans to seek support for its drug rehabilitation and literacy programs. The Rev. Sun Myung Moon's church, now called the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification U.S.A., plans to promote its abstinence programs in the schools.
"You will see us deeply involved in any area where we can partner in practical projects with government," said the Rev. Phillip D. Schanker, the Unification Church's vice president for public affairs, who had on his desk a copy of a magazine he had just subscribed to about government contracting opportunities.
And Krishna leaders, who have centers in 40 American cities, have been phoning David D. Dobson, executive director of the Philadelphia programs for the Hare Krishnas a Hindu sect often stigmatized in this country but well established in India to discuss how to follow his example and become government contractors.
Mr. Bush's effort could provoke new questions about what constitutes a legitimate religion. One definition of religion likely to be applied grows out of the Supreme Court's ruling in a 1965 case involving draft exemptions. In that case, the court defined religion as "a sincere and meaningful belief occupying in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualified for the exemption." By any measure, the definition is broad.
"One of the big issues that people haven't talked about much is that some very controversial religions could get active in this," said Philip Jenkins, the author of "Mystics and Messiahs: Cults and New Religions in American History"(Oxford University Press, 2000), and a professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University.
"Running a faith-based program raises the question, what faiths are out of bounds?" Mr. Jenkins said. "Either you fund all faith groups, even groups you radically don't like, or you fund none. I have nothing against funding everybody, but I think people need to be prepared for the issues that might arise. How do you distinguish between a Methodist and a Moonie? The answer is, you can't."
To win their $2.5 million in government contracts in Philadelphia, the Hare Krishnas have removed almost all evidence of their religious affiliation, said Mr. Dobson, a Krishna devotee who decades ago abandoned his monk's robes for a gray blazer. On the vegetarian food, he refused to compromise.
Mr. Dobson's program used to have a sign that said, "Hare Krishna: Food for Life." But then some corporate sponsors complained, he said, and the words "Hare Krishna" were removed. Now the organization is called simply Food for Life.
"It makes people uncomfortable, and mostly people at the government level," Mr. Dobson said. "Being a Krishna organization, in the early days there was a lot of prejudice and there was pressure to tone down anything religious. We certainly put in the closet a lot of our religious philosophy."
Keith Patterson, a house supervisor who sat at the front door keeping track of the parolees leaving for work, said the Krishna-sponsored program was totally secular. He contrasted it with the government-financed Salvation Army program where he used to work.
"There were chapel services every Sunday," Mr. Patterson said, and residents were required to attend devotions and Bible study daily. "They were trying to get you back to God."
There are a few clues so far to how the Bush administration will look on proposals from less traditional religious groups.
In an interview with The New York Times during the campaign, Mr. Bush was asked if, for example, he would approve of government financing for a Church of Scientology antidrug program. He answered: "I have a problem with the teachings of Scientology being viewed on the same par as Judaism or Christianity. That just happens to be a personal point of view. But I am interested in results. I am not focused on the process."
For its part, the Church of Scientology, founded as Dianetics in the 1950's by the science-fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard, claims it can document the effectiveness of its literacy programs and its drug and prisoner rehabilitation programs, Narconon and Criminon. In Oklahoma, the church receives state money to treat drug addicts at Narconon Chilocco, a Scientology rehabilitation center, said Kurt Weiland, director of the Church of Scientology International.
"In Scientology, we believe in past lives and future lives," Mr. Weiland said, adding that the church's programs are open to people of all beliefs. "Nobody who does anything in drug rehabilitation or in literacy programs has to formulate that belief in order to go through the program."
The White House Office on Faith- Based and Community Initiatives has already come under pressure from one religious group to deny government contracts to another. In recent weeks, the Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish group, has lobbied behind the scenes for assurances that the administration will not enter into partnerships with the Nation of Islam, whose leader, Louis Farrakhan, has a history of anti- Semitic statements.
Anti-Defamation League leaders met on Feb. 12 with John DiIulio Jr., who is heading the president's program, and say they left reassured that the president would not allow financing for the Nation of Islam's programs. Mr. Bush told The Austin American-Statesman during the campaign, "I don't see how we can allow public dollars to fund programs where spite and hate is the core of the message."
The Nation of Islam did not respond to repeated requests for interviews.
Mr. Bush has told religious leaders that his program will allow them greater leeway to integrate their teachings into their community service and still be eligible for federal aid.
In Philadelphia, Mr. Dobson expects to add Krishna spirituality to his programs by hiring a few members of the clergy and mentors, and teaching about the history of non- Western religions.
"We're not just here to educate and feed people," Mr. Dobson said as he entered a basement lounge where two parolees watched Jerry Springer on television. "We see people as spirit souls. Our goal is to help them spiritually develop."
Charity Aid Worries Some Conservatives
Critics Say Bush Plan Has Drawbacks
Thomas B. Edsall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 17, 2001; Page A10
Some conservatives warned yesterday that President Bush's initiative to help "faith-based" groups could drain vitality from religious charities serving the poor by making them dependent on government grants and subjecting them to federal regulation.
Terrence Scanlon, president of Capital Research Center, an organization critical of the political activities of liberal foundations, said conservatives "fear that the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives is going to be churning out government grants and tempting charities with federal dollars. Faith-based groups that have so far escaped the outstretched hand of the federal government will discover that it is a federal fist."
Some liberal groups oppose Bush's plan, which seeks to make it easier for religious charities to receive government funds, because they believe it would break down the barrier between church and state, allowing religion into the administration of government services.
The conservatives object for the opposite reason. They believe religious charities will lose their spiritual components under government influence. The conservative critics include Marvin Olasky, a University of Texas journalism professor who has been a key adviser to Bush on social issues, and conservative analyst Michael Horowitz.
"The administration must avoid the pitfalls that have caused so many charities to become wards of the federal government and advocates for bigger government," Scanlon said at a news conference to release a report entitled "Mandate for Charity." Scanlon was joined by Robert L. Woodson Sr., a conservative advocate of neighborhood-based programs.
Woodson and Scanlon, while not rejecting the idea of government grants to faith-based groups, placed more emphasis on expanding tax breaks -- including eliminating the estate tax and relaxing rules for taxpayers who take charitable deductions -- and lifting state, federal and city regulation of religious charities.
Woodson criticized state laws requiring social service providers to meet various training and education standards, describing tough enforcement of these rules as an "assault by the state on these faith-based organizations."
Donald Eberly, deputy director of the administration's faith-based initiative, did not directly respond to Scanlon's warnings but he strongly endorsed the efforts of religious groups in working with the poor, the homeless and the addicted.
"The only remaining islands of hope" in some neighborhoods are small congregations, Eberly said. Those groups that are "most grounded in faith are the groups doing the hardest work. They are getting it right."
Howowitz and Olasky said tax credits, deductions and other incentives are the "preferable means" of supporting religious charities, with grant programs a second choice under which "money and resources are provided on the basis of objective, nondiscretionary standards to groups performing defined social services."
There has been some division within conservative ranks over the proposed elimination of the estate tax. Yesterday, Scanlon came down firmly in favor of abolition.
Disputing arguments that the tax acts as an incentive to give to charities, Scanlon said charitable "contributions rose in the 1980s when tax rates were lowered from 70 to 28 [percent]. That's because lower taxes spurred wealth creation and economic prosperity. Charitable giving ultimately depends on prosperity, not the threat of taxation."
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
Groups Lukewarm on Earlier Faith Initiative
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 1, 2001; Page B1
Washington area religious leaders heartily agree with President Bush that faith is a great motivator, and they welcome his recognition of what faith-based groups can accomplish in helping people.
But they are not unanimous on the merits of taking government funds, as evidenced by their responses to the first program that made federal dollars directly available to religious groups the "charitable choice" provision in 1996 welfare reform legislation.
That provision, which allows religious groups to compete on an equal basis with secular ones for federal grants, is at the heart of the faith initiative Bush laid out this week. Specifically, the initiative would extend the charitable choice concept to other social welfare programs and remove federal and state regulatory obstacles that have hindered its smooth implementation since 1996, administration officials said.
Some faith leaders applaud the measure. "The opportunity for churches to serve as providers using government money as a service to people in need . . . is wonderful," said the Rev. Gary E. Ham, executive director of Operation Breakingthrough, a ministry of 55 churches in low-income areas of Newport News, Va. With it, he said, "you can provide services as a church without denying you are a church."
But others have reservations that government money creates dependency, requires submission to government audits and could compromise their spiritual mission.
"As soon as religious groups get involved with government, they're going to lose this freedom; they're going to have to act like bureaucrats," said the Rev. Lon Dring, interim associate pastor at Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church and former executive director of Montgomery County Community Ministry.
Many congregations don't understand how the program works or how to apply. "Lots and lots of congregations don't know anything about it," said the Rev. Jack VandenHengel, executive director of Community Ministry of Prince George's County. "And it's not easy money; there are still hoops to jump through."
In any event, faith leaders say, there has not been a rush to obtain funds under charitable choice.
Sponsored by then-Sen. John D. Ashcroft (R-Mo.), charitable choice was added to the 1996 Welfare Reform Act to ensure that faith-based organizations were not prevented from applying for federal welfare-to-work funds because of their religious character. Later, Congress extended the concept to some federal block grants and drug treatment funding.
Traditionally, faith groups had to set up separate, secular nonprofits to receive federal funds and were restricted in how much religious content their programs could have. So religiously affiliated nonprofits such as Catholic Charities, the Jewish Federation and Lutheran Social Services acted as "firewalls" between church and state.
But under charitable choice, religious groups no longer have to form secular nonprofits to receive federal money. And they can hold voluntary prayers, display religious icons and use "religious principles and concepts" in counseling and providing services. However, government money cannot be used for sectarian worship, instruction or proselytizing.
Charitable choice also allows faith groups exemption from federal bans on religious discrimination in hiring.
On the other hand, the groups cannot require people in federally funded programs to participate in religious activities and cannot discriminate in providing services based on religion. Anyone uncomfortable in a faith-run program is legally entitled to a secular alternative.
The Rev. Emory Searcy, national organizer for Call to Renewal, a Washington-based ecumenical anti-poverty coalition, said his group still encourages congregations to form separate nonprofits for independence. Once a group gets federal money, he noted, "the government has a right to look at your books and scrutinize you. That's a little bit too close for us, and I don't think the church on the corner wants the government looking into their books."
Several religious leaders also cautioned against becoming too dependent on government funds, which eventually run out unlike donations from congregations.
"Typically you get a contract and hire three or four people . . . but the money only lasts a year," Dring said. "You got to compete for it all over again. . . . It takes times to write proposals. You can be left high and dry. You have to dismiss staff."
In some cases, religious applicants for federal money say they have encountered regulatory obstacles and have found officials still reluctant to fund faith groups.
In a study released in September, the Annapolis-based Center for Public Justice, which supports charitable choice, found that 40 states and the District, had failed to change "overly restrictive policies that hinder or exclude participation by faith-based groups" applying for government welfare-to-work funds.
Richard Shannon, founder of ChurchFARE, a group of Christian evangelical churches in the District, said his group was stymied in applying for funding for a jobs training program because it refused to sign a form promising to abide by D.C. laws barring discrimination in hiring on the basis of religion.
Shannon contends that "this was a nullification of charitable choice," which gives religious groups the right to hire only those who share their beliefs. This right is important, he added, because "we need the freedom to share the gospel and set forth the reasons for our behavior."
More broadly, some religious leaders said they still have questions about Bush's initiative. "His philosophy of going through faith-based institutions to deal with some of the social ills in the community is for us a better way to do it," said the Rev. Stephen E. Tucker, of New Commandment Baptist Church in Northwest Washington.
But, he added, "I'm not sure what Bush's goals are. If they're solely political, that's one thing. But if he really wants to make a difference in the community, that's something else."
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
Bush Reaffirms Separation of Church And State
Updated February 1, 2001
By Patricia Wilson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush vowed at a national prayer breakfast on Thursday to end discrimination against religious institutions and reassured Americans he would not try to impose his own faith on them.
Bush, speaking about religion for the fourth day in a row, used the annual event to address concerns about his initiative allowing faith-based organizations to gain access to federal dollars to help pay for their solutions to social ills.
He also revisited his campaign themes of returning civility to politics and changing the tone in Washington, urging that public debate ``be free from bitterness and anger and rancor and ill will.''
Like every one of his predecessors since Dwight Eisenhower, Bush dwelt on the breakfast's 49-year-old tradition of bringing together members of Congress, foreign dignitaries, Cabinet members and judges to share in the spirit of unity regardless of their religious views.
``Our country from its beginning has recognized the contribution of faith,'' he told more than 1,000 guests gathered in the cavernous ballroom of a downtown hotel.
``We do not impose any religion. We welcome all religions. We do not proscribe any prayer. We welcome all prayer. This is the tradition of our nation. And it will be the standard of my administration,'' he said.
Pointing out that the Constitution forbids a religious test for office, Bush added: ``And that's the way it should be. An American president serves people of every faith, and serves some with no faith at all.''
``ARMIES OF COMPASSION''
He said his administration would put the federal government ''squarely on the side of America's armies of compassion'' and drew a standing ovation when he added: ``The days of discriminating against religious institutions simply because they are religious must come to an end.''
But Bush also insisted his faith-based plan to give religious groups a greater role in curing social problems like homelessness, alcoholism and drug addiction by letting them compete for government grants, would not cross the constitutional boundary separating church and state.
``Our plan will not favor religious institutions over nonreligious institutions. As president, I'm interested in what is constitutional and I'm interested in what works,'' he said.
Bush, a Methodist who turned to religion and then gave up drinking almost 15 years ago, says he reads the Bible every day. He told the prayer breakfast his faith personally helped him ``in the service to people.''
``It has sustained me in moments of success and in moments of disappointment,'' he said. ``Without it, I'd be a different person. And without it, I doubt I'd be here today.''
A believer in the power of faith to change lives because he feels it has changed his own, Bush has brought a new religious focus to the White House, raising the hackles of advocates of a strict constitutional separation between church and state and triggering a national debate over whether federal dollars should be used to support faith-based social services.
The prayer breakfast, organized by members of Congress and attended by a diverse group, also heard from Vice President Dick Cheney.
``We come together on this day, people of many faiths, to speak with one voice, humbly asking the creator for a measure of his grace as we carry out the duties given to us,'' he said.
Among the foreign leaders attending were President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo, President Boris Trajkovski of Macedonia, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda of the Slovak Republic.
The foreign ministers of the Bahamas, Montenegro, Romania and Albania also were present, along with two former Pakistani prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif.
Bush did not meet with any of them, leaving immediately after the closing prayer and song following his brief speech.
Asked why, National Security Council spokeswoman Mary Ellen Countryman said: ``The president's first meeting with a foreign leader is with (Canadian) Prime Minister (Jean) Chretien on Monday.''
Copyright 2000 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Faith-Based Initiatives Nothing New to Nation's State Lawmakers; Human Service Expert Prepared to Discuss States' Faith-based Initiatives
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- While President George W. Bush's proposal to enhance opportunities for faith-based and other community organizations has attracted a great deal of media attention, the concept is not a new one said Sheri Steisel, director of NCSL's Human Services Committee.
"In many communities, the only institutions that are in a position to provide human services are faith-based organizations," Steisel said. "Contracting with faith-based and other community organizations to provide government services is something that has proven effective in the states over the past five years."
Through the flexibility provided by the enactment of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, many state and local jurisdictions have contracted with faith-based and community organizations to help administer various aspects of welfare programs. However, the key to the success of these initiatives has been the states' flexibility to decide how and where to spend the monies, Steisel says.
For example, in Daytona Beach, Florida, local churches and Kairos, a faith-based prison ministry, have teamed with prison officials to provide life-skills training that includes a responsible parenting program to incarcerated fathers. In El Paso County, Colorado, faith-based organizations have been brought in to help mentor women as they make the transition from welfare to work.
"As welfare reform continues to evolve, it is important that government at all levels continues to explore innovative ways to provide services to its constituents," Steisel continued. "We are extremely pleased that the president is joining the states in exploring these new opportunities."
--- EDITOR'S NOTE: Steisel has extensive knowledge of numerous existing government/faith-based partnerships and is available to discuss, in detail, how the president's recent announcement may affect current partnerships and/or state services.
Transcript of Remarks by President Bush in Submission of Faith- Based Services Proposal
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a transcript of remarks by President Bush in submission of the faith-based services proposal:
The Fishing School Washington, D.C.
1:35 p.m. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Tom, very much for having us. And it's such an honor to have John DiIulio on my staff. For those of you who don't know John, he's a pioneer in working with Republicans and Democrats and people who really care about political parties to revitalize neighborhoods and places where hope may have been lost, by rallying faith-based organizations. And so, John, I'm so honored that you've sacrificed for the country.
It's good to see Steve Goldsmith here, who is a partner as well.
A little over a week ago, a few miles from here, I was honored to be inaugurated your President. I'm here today to repeat the promise I made on the steps of the Capitol -- I will work to build a single nation of justice and opportunity. I'm going to need some help to do that. And so I'm so honored four members of the United States Congress are here -- Senator Joe Lieberman from the great state of Connecticut -- (applause) -- Senator Rick Santorum from Pennsylvania -- (applause) -- Congressman Mark Souder of Indiana -- (applause) -- Congressman Tony Hall of Ohio. (Applause.)
I'm also pleased that two members of my Cabinet came -- one, Mel Martinez, my Secretary of Housing and Urban Development -- (applause) -- and finally, Rod Paige, a fellow Texan who is now the Secretary of Education. (Applause.)
The Fishing School obviously attracts people who seek excellence, and all of us up here, regardless of our political party, love to herald excellence. And we love to stand next to people who have got vision and good intentions and a good heart. And that's Tom Lewis. (Applause.)
This little haven is a refuge from violence and addiction and abuse. Children find learning and care, but most important, they find something that we can never pass legislation to achieve -- and that's love. They find love. They find an adult saying, somebody cares about you. Somebody loves you. Somebody wants to help you. Tom knows what we all know, that through loving children, you find deep fulfillment in your own heart. You can just see it on his face, and you can hear it in his voice.
As a candidate for President, I had the privilege of visiting a lot of churches and synagogues and charitable groups all across the country, groups that offer food and shelter, hope and dignity. I've seen how effective and committed these groups are at saving and changing lives. As President, I am resolved to put government on your side, Tom, on the side of the committed and the caring and the compassionate.
There are so many people in need. The good news about America is, there are so many willing to serve. It's the great strength of our nation. There's no limit to the talent and energy and compassion of this great land. But sometimes the need is too great and the resources are too limited, and all of us, as private citizens and public officials, should help where we can.
Today I'm sending to Congress a set of ideas and proposals that mark a hopeful new direction for our government. We will encourage community and faith-based programs, without changing their mission. We will eliminate barriers to charitable works, wherever they exist, and we will encourage charitable giving, wherever we can.
I'm open to any good ideas that will come form the Congress, and I can assure you, these four good members of Congress will have some good ideas. (Laughter.) And they're probably not going to be afraid to tell me either. (Laughter.) But here are some of my proposals.
I want to fully open up the after-school program, called 21st Century Learning Centers, to all after-school programs, including faith-based groups. (Applause.) I propose to create a compassionate capital fund, which will provide start-up funds for promising new programs serving people in need. We'll make sure that funding is available to faith-based programs on an equal basis, with non-religious alternatives.
Government, of course, cannot fund, and will not fund, religious activities. But when people of faith provide social services, we will not discriminate against them. (Applause.) I propose to encourage mentoring programs for children of prisoners. (Applause.) As well as programs that, when possible, help to mend broken families.
The change we seek won't come all at once, by an act of Congress or any executive order signed by the President. Real change happens street by street, heart by heart, one soul, one conscience at a time. It happens in places like this one, the Fishing School. Yet I hope the good policies can expand and multiply these efforts, uplifting lives all across America.
You know, for those of us in public life oftentimes are honored to be able to see the best of America, to be able to find true strength, the true heart of the country. I believe the true heart of the country can be defined here at the Fishing School, an idea started because somebody said, what can I do; how can I hear the universal call to love a neighbor just like I'd like to be loved myself? In this case, a person I call a social entrepreneur, and this is a country of social entrepreneurs.
And our job, regardless of our political party, is to recognize the strength of the country, to nourish it and feed it within the Constitution, within the bounds of the Constitution, and to herald success when we find it. And today all of us are honored to be here to herald success because we have found it right here.
God bless Tom. God bless your program. (Applause.)
END 1:42 p.m. EST
Tuesday January 30, 2001
Bush Proposes Tax Deductions for Faith-Based Giving
By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush on Tuesday proposed increasing tax deductions to faith-based organizations in hopes of triggering billion of dollars in new donations.
Bush visited the Fishing School, a religious-oriented community center in Washington for inner-city children, to give a broad outline of his legislative proposals for giving more federal dollars to faith-based groups that grapple with social problems like alcoholism, homelessness and drug abuse.
``There are so many people in need,'' Bush said to cries of ''Amen'' from the audience. ``The good news about America is there are so many willing to serve. It's the great strength of our nation.''
Bush's proposals are raising questions among some critics as to whether they cross the constitutional boundary between church and state and whether they would lead to discrimination.
A number of groups -- including Americans United for Separation and Church and State, the National Association of Colored People and the American Civil Liberties Union -- wrote an open letter to Bush on Tuesday calling for clarity in putting his faith-based plan into practice.
``As someone committed to uniting the American people, we hope that you will agree with us and confirm your opposition to government-funded religious discrimination,'' the letter read. ``It would be unconscionable that a want ad for government-supported social services could read, for example, ``Catholics and Jews need not apply.''
Deduction Available To All Taxpayers
Bush's proposed extending to all taxpayers the federal charitable tax deduction, which allows people who itemize on their taxes to deduct money given to charity from their taxable income.
Bush's plan would allow the 80 million people who take the standard deduction, and do not itemize, to deduct for their donations to charity. Bush believes that may boost charitable giving by billions of dollars, funding private groups that the White House thinks are better at providing services than the government.
Bush also proposed raising the cap on corporate charitable deductions. Corporations would be permitted charitable donations until their value exceeds 15 percent of the company's taxable income, instead of the 10 percent under current law.
He would also create a ``compassion capital fund,'' that would match private giving with federal dollars to pay for increased technical assistance to help small community and faith-based charities increase their capacity, and provide start-up capital to help smaller groups expand.
Bush offered no cost for his proposal. But during the presidential campaign his faith-based tax deduction plan was projected to cost about $8 billion a year.
The president also called for expanding after-school programs for low-income children and for creating a test program using faith-based groups to provide mentoring for the children of prisoners.
Standing at Bush's side at the Fishing School was Democratic Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman (news - bio - voting record), who was on the losing Democratic presidential ticket with Al Gore .
Lieberman told reporters that he supported the general principles of Bush's plan but noted that the devil was in the details.
``I think we can do it without going across any constitutional lines, separation of church and state. And we can do it in a way that does not favor faith-based groups but gives them an equal opportunity to be part of solving a lot of our problems,'' he said.
Bush, who ran for president as a ``compassionate conservative'', has said the faith-based programs are more able than the government to reach out to society and handle tough problems like alcoholism, drug addiction or homelessness.
Subj: Faith basis and Bush
"Some religious groups do, however, follow exclusionary policies, and these point up the inherent -- and constitutional -- difficulties of church-state partnerships. A week ago Friday, Governor Bush toured the Haven of Rest Ministries, a homeless shelter in Akron, Ohio. Two years ago, ministry officials told a Jewish businessman that he couldn't join the board, citing their rule of employing only born-again Christians. During his visit, Mr. Bush maintained that under his plan Haven of Rest's programs would be eligible for Government funds -- even though groups that accept Federal money must comply with antidiscrimination laws."
George Bush rallies support for 'faith-based' services package
January 30, 2001
Bush appeared with representatives of several religions Monday to announce the package
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush took his push for allowing religious groups to receive public funds for social service efforts to a Washington school Tuesday as aides prepared to formally submit the proposal to Congress.
The proposals must overcome opposition from many who fear that providing federal funds to religious organizations would violate the Constitution's ban on the separation of church and state.
"Government, of course, cannot fund and will not fund religious activities," Bush said Tuesday. "But when people provide faith-based services, we will not discriminate against them."
Monday, Bush announced the creation of a new White House office focused solely on helping religious and community groups obtain federal tax dollars to fund social service work. The new White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives will report directly to the president.
The agency will be charged with distributing billions of federal dollars to a variety of religious groups and charities over the next 10 years. In essence, the groups would be competing with a number of established organizations -- including federal agencies -- for a set amount of tax dollars.
Tuesday's event at The Fishing School, a religious community center in Washington, is the latest in a series of meetings Bush has planned throughout the week with leaders of spiritual and charitable groups to secure support for the proposal. The plan marks a strategic shift for the U.S. government, making private and "faith-based" charities the administration's first line of defense against social problems such as poverty, addiction and homelessness.
"The change we seek won't come all at once, from any act of Congress or any executive order signed by the president," Bush said. "Real change starts street by street, heart by heart -- one soul, one conscience at a time."
The legislative portion of the Bush plan was on its way to Capitol Hill after Bush's appearance Tuesday. The package would allow religious groups to compete with secular organizations for federal dollars to pay for after-school programs, drug treatment counseling, meal assistance and other programs: In addition, they include broader tax deductions for Americans who make regular charitable donations.
"I want to be very clear. The office is the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, so we're not just focused on religious organizations. We're interested in achieving important civic purposes," John DiIulio, the director of the new faith-based programs office, told CNN.
DiIulio said the effort would build on existing law -- a portion of the 1996 welfare reform bill -- that allows religious organizations to participate in federal anti-poverty programs.
"We're talking here about not government giving religious organizations money, we're talking really about leveling the playing field and making it possible for these organizations to compete fairly," DiIulio said.
Rabbi Nathan Diament, an Orthodox Jewish leader who supports the proposal, said religious groups must meet the same standards that secular groups do.
"It's also not going to necessarily mandate that the money will go to the religious social service agencies," Diament said. "If none of them apply or none of them qualify, they won't get it."
But Bush's proposal already is drawing fire from others who fear it would lead to government taking sides among religious faiths.
White House officials say safeguards would be in place to make sure the religious groups do not use the money to proselytize. But some prominent religious leaders have said the bigger danger is not religion intruding on government, but government intruding on religion.
"All of a sudden, some bureaucrat says, 'Well, we're going to give you tons of money, but you can't talk about your faith. You can't teach them the Torah, you can't talk about Jesus' or what have you. At that point they have essentially killed the essence of that organization," Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson said.
ACLU worried about Bush's faith-based initiative
From CNN Producer Christy Darden
January 30, 2001
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The American Civil Liberties Union said Tuesday it is gravely concerned about the constitutionality of President Bush's faith-based charities proposal.
One of its main objections is that the proposal could, for the first time, allow organizations that are not required to comply with federal civil rights laws to receive federal funds.
"Bush wants to level the playing field," said Terri Schroder, legislative analyst for the ACLU. "But it's not level. Civil rights laws are relaxed" for faith-based organizations, she said.
A provision of the Civil Rights Act exempts religious organizations from complying with federal civil rights law. Schroder is concerned that this provision could allow faith-based organizations that oppose interracial marriage, for example, to refuse to hire people in such a union and still receive public money. However, a charity not sponsored by a religion could be in violation of federal civil rights law if it refused to hire someone for being in an interracial marriage.
The ACLU said the Bush proposal also could put the government in the position of determining what is a legitimate religious organization. For example, by determining that an organization sponsored by the Jewish faith is eligible to receive federal funding and another sponsored by a tiny Christian sect is not, the U.S. government could be deciding that one set of beliefs is a religion and the other is not.
"We're very worried," said Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington office.
The ACLU also expressed concerns that the government would have the resources to ensure that public funds are going to the charity arm and not the church arm.
In the case of a faith-based program to treat addiction, Murphy said, "How can we be sure the funds go to drug treatment and not to the minister?"
The ACLU also sought to dispel the argument that faith-based charitable organizations already are receiving public funds.
"It's misleading to the public," Murphy said.
The Salvation Army and Catholic Charities, she said, are associated with religious faiths but have been required by law to set up a separate, secular organization with nonprofit status to receive the public funds.
With 501(C)(3) nonprofit status, "spin-offs" of faith-based charities can get federal money in a constitutional way, Murphy said.
Despite its objections, the ACLU has not yet presented a legal challenge to the Bush proposal, said Schroder, since it is unclear how it will be implemented.
And, before there is litigation, the ACLU is hoping to get strong public support.
Murphy acknowledged that there are difficulties in making the public aware of the possible constitutional issues around the Bush proposal.
In an era where national candidates for public office casually and frequently invoke their faith in public, "people are more comfortable with religion in public life," she said.
However, she said she was confident that once people were educated about the pitfalls of the Bush strategy, there would be wider public opposition to it.
The ACLU said its strategy would be to continue to educate the public, to push for hearings on the issue and call for greater dialogue with members of Congress.
Statement by the National Urban League: Faith Based Organizations Should Not be Government Funded
NEW YORK, Jan. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Dr. William Spriggs, director of the National Urban League's Institute for Opportunity and Equality, today released the following statement about President George W. Bush's plan to allow religious groups to compete for billions of dollars in government grants:
"Urban Leaguers around the country are quite familiar with the good works of faith-based organizations. They are among the League's most valued and effective partners.
"Nevertheless, we at the National Urban League are troubled by the prospect of federal funding for faith-based programs. We believe this risks breaching the time-honored constitutional separation of church and state. Faith-based organizations traditionally are exempt from certain laws and rules of operation that apply to nonsectarian organizations and public agencies.
"Lastly, some religious institutions espouse views and practice forms of intolerance antithetical to prevailing American values. The prospect of public funding for such institutions is deeply troubling. "
The National Urban League Institute for Opportunity and Equality conducts research, policy analysis and advocacy focused on issues of critical importance to the African-American community and the nation as a whole.
The Urban League is the nation's oldest and largest community-based movement devoted to empowering African Americans to enter the economic and social mainstream. The National Urban League, headquartered in New York City, spearheads the nonprofit, nonpartisan movement, while Urban League affiliates operate in more than 100 cities in 34 states and the District of Columbia.
Faith/Community-Based Initiative Could Help Clinch Victory In Fight Against Hunger, Hall Says
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The following was released today by the Office of Rep. Tony Hall:
-- Faith/Community-Based Initiative Could Help Clinch Victory In Fight Against Hunger, Hall Says
-- Almost Three Quarters Of Food Pantries And Soup Kitchens Are Run By Faith-Based Organizations
Rep. Tony P. Hall, D-Ohio, today praised President George W. Bush's proposal to assist faith-based and community organizations as a promising way of encouraging them to help battle hunger, poverty, and other social ills. Hall suggested the Administration extend the initiative to cover food banks and other programs that provide food -- and often literacy training, drug rehabilitation, and other services too -- to needy people. Hall attended the announcement of the legislative initiative at a Washington, DC school.
"Faith has been a defining characteristic of our communities' life throughout our nation's history, and people who serve God by serving those in need remain one of America's greatest strengths," Hall said. "This initiative will draw on these traditions and bring them to bear on some of our most difficult social problems. It also will leverage private funds and give a wider circle of donors a stake in the success of these projects.
"I am particularly encouraged that this initiative will give some well-deserved support to the legions of people trying to end poverty in our prosperous nation, and I hope it will extend to those working in faith-based organizations that fight hunger. In recent years, growing numbers of hungry people have been turning to food pantries and soup kitchens for help each month. Nationwide, requests for help were up 18 percent nationwide, and three in five came from families with children," he added.
More than 70 percent of these pantries and kitchens are operated by faith-based organizations that work hard to collect donations - but have not been able to keep their shelves stocked. These are creative and resourceful projects whose dedicated employees and volunteers deserve support.
"To those who worry that we are in uncharted territory, I would point out the work American charities do overseas, coping with this month's terrible earthquakes in India and El Salvador, easing famine in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and promoting development around the world," Hall said. "Many of these organizations are closely affiliated with religious groups; many of their projects grew from missionary roots. This work leverages private funds and achieves results that often last generations.
"To those who charge this initiative will open the door to taxpayer-funded religion, I would say that every faith tradition emphasizes helping the poor. The Bible, for example, contains some 2,500 verses about caring for those in need. The 'Golden Rule' is echoed in all religions' teachings, and is something virtually all can agree upon. This initiative's focus on results will ensure that Constitutional safeguards -- both of religious freedom and for taxpayers -- remain in place," Hall said.
"This is a common-sense approach that deals with the challenges many Americans face head on. It deserves a chance, and I commend President Bush for giving it one," he said.
Detroit Free Press
Tuesday January 30 12:30 PM EST
Faith-based plan getting split verdict
BY DAVID CRUMM,WENDY WENDLAND-BOWYERand ALEXA CAPELOTO, FREE PRESS STAFF WRITERS
President George W. Bush's attempt Monday to encourage closer government partnerships with faith-based community groups raised as much concern as praise.
Reaction ranged from the enthusiasm of Imam Hassan Qazwini, a Detroit Muslim leader who was Michigan's only religious representative at the White House announcement, to opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union and other watchdogs of church-state separation.
"This clearly is a prescription for religious discrimination," said Wendy Wagenheim, a Detroit spokeswoman for the ACLU of Michigan.
Bush's plan to lower restrictions on funding religious-based social service programs is likely to violate First Amendment guarantees that separate church and state, Wagenheim argued. If so, legal challenges will follow.
Even some of the enthusiastic supporters of Bush's initiative raised tough questions.
At the White House, Qazwini was introduced by Bush to 34 other clergy and community activists as "my friend from Michigan." The imam, who heads the Islamic Center of America on Detroit's west side, had met with Bush in Texas in December to advise him on formulating the pair of executive orders issued on Monday.
Tuesday January 30 12:00 PM EST
Bush, Lieberman Promote Faith-Based Programs
President Bush and a familiar rival, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, are linking up to promote faith-based social programs. But should your tax dollars be used to help religious groups?
George W. Bush will link up with erstwhile political rival Sen. Joseph Lieberman today as the president continues his efforts to promote faith-based social programs.
This afternoon, Bush and Lieberman will visit a Washington school known for its after-school mentoring program, as a means of drumming up support for government funding of religious social programs.
A day after announcing the creation of a White House office devoted to faith-based social efforts, Bush will also formally submit a legislative proposal to Congress today calling for a total of $24 billion in tax deductions and federal grants for charitable institutions over a 10-year period.
Bush's plan includes a $500-per-person tax credit for charitable contributions, and a charity deduction for taxpayers who do not itemize their returns.
Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 2000, made history as the first Jewish candidate to be on a major-party presidential ticket.
Lieberman has frequently spoken about the importance of religion in civic life, to the point of drawing criticism from groups concerned about the encroachment of religion on political affairs.
The 'Work of A Nation
On Monday, the president launched an initiative aimed at boosting government funding for religious and church-run organizations that provide social services.
"Compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government," Bush said at a ceremony in the Indian Treaty Room of the White House Monday morning.
The president signed a pair of executive orders, one creating a new White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives to promote cooperation between the federal government and religious service providers, and the other directing five Cabinet-level departments - Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, Justice and Education - to establish similar offices.
"When we see social needs in America, my administration will look first to faith-based programs and community groups which have proven their power to save and change lives," Bush said.
With representatives from some three dozen religious and secular charitable organizations standing behind him, Bush outlined his plan to allow religious community groups to compete on an equal basis for government funding to provide alcohol and drug abuse treatment, housing, job-training and other services.
"We will not fund the religious activities of any group," Bush insisted, "but when people of faith provide social services, we will not discriminate against them."
The Question of Separation
As the president tries to walk the constitutional line separating church and state, alarmed civil libertarians and some representatives of minority religions say Bush's initiative has crossed it.
"We see this as one of the biggest threats to separation of church and state in modern history," says Joe Conn, a spokesman for Americans United For Separation of Church and State. "You simply cannot funnel billions of tax dollars to houses of worship and not find yourself in violation of the first amendment."
Bush insists, however, that his initiative will not result in taxpayer money being used to support religious activities.
"I am convinced our plan is constitutional because we will not fund a church or synagogue or moqsue or any religion," he told reporters this afternoon. "Instead, we'll be funding programs that affect people in a positive way."
But critics of Bush's approach raise a host of concerns about how the plan would work. Phil Baum, executive director of the American Jewish Congress, for example, warns that people in need of government services could be subjected to religious indoctrination.
"The condition of availing yourself of those benefits should not be exposing yourself or subordinating yourself to any kind of religious influence," he says.
Baum, whose group has filed suit over Texas state funding for a program which uses Christian theology to impart job skills to welfare recipients, also argues that the expansion of government-supported faith-based programs will put federal bureaucrats in the awkward position of choosing among religions, some of which may have unpopular beliefs.
"I don't think government should be in a position of assessing their worthiness of their eligibility for government assistance," he says.
During the campaign, Bush initially appeared to endorse the idea of sending government funds to the Nation of Islam, whose leader Louis Farrakhan has made disparaging comments about Jews. Later, a spokeswoman said Bush misunderstood the question and that the group would be unlikely to qualify for federal money. Nation-of-Islam-affiliated companies have, however, held security contracts funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
A number of groups, including Baum's and Conn's, are threatening to challenge the program in court.
Though Bush's plan is certain to be hotly debated on Capitol Hill, some moderate Democratic lawmakers signaled their support for the president's approach.
"I think it can be done and done successfully in ways that help the rest of society," Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana said on CNN. "And I think the president will find broad common ground, bipartisan support for his initiative, if he does it right."
Bush made greater government assistance to faith-based organizations a major theme of his presidential campaign. Former Vice President Al Gore - Bush's general election opponent - as well as former President Clinton have called for greater cooperation between religious groups and the federal government.
ABCNEWS' Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.
Indianapolis Star | WRTV TheIndyChannel.com
Tuesday January 30 07:30 AM EST
Goldsmith will advise 'faith-based initiative'
By Doug Sword, Judith Cebula and Mary Beth Schneider
President Bush is giving religious and other private, community-based organizations the chance to compete for billions of federal dollars to deliver services to the poor, prisoners and others through a new White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
But Stephen Goldsmith, who pushed for similar initiatives during his tenure as Indianapolis mayor, will be playing a secondary role as the administration carries out the new program.
Bush on Monday signed two executive orders -- one creating the office and a second establishing liaisons with five Cabinet-level departments to remove impediments to working with religious and community groups. He then named University of Pennsylvania Professor John J. DiIulio Jr. to run the new operation. Opening Feb. 20, the office will have a staff of about 10.
The gestures were part of Bush's "faith-based initiative," touted during the campaign, designed to allow religious charities to administer services -- for the poor, addicted and disadvantaged -- previously dominated by government agencies. Though the proposals drew immediate criticism from groups worried about church-state separation, Bush and his aides moved to downplay the religious component, emphasizing the proposal's overall purpose: boosting communities and civil society.
"Government will never be replaced by charities and community groups," Bush told an assembly of interfaith and community service leaders at the White House. "Yet when we see social needs in America, my administration will look to faith-based programs and community groups, which have proven their power to save and change lives."
Goldsmith, who was widely expected to run the new White House office, was instead named to serve as one of 13 board members at the Corporation for National Service, the federal agency that oversees national volunteer efforts such as AmeriCorps. He also is expected to create an organization to solicit private money for charitable and volunteer work.
DiIulio, who had championed Goldsmith for the faith-based post before accepting the position himself Saturday, said Goldsmith remains "the top adviser to the president on these issues."
Goldsmith describes his role as a sort of advance man. He'll recommend changes at the national service agency, launched by President Clinton, to make it fit Bush's vision.
Goldsmith reportedly had been offered the faith-based post but, seeking a larger office with broader sweep, declined. The former mayor was passed over for Cabinet-level posts, such as secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and in the end took an unpaid, volunteer job. Goldsmith says he took it on his own terms.
The appointment to the Corporation for National Service's board fits both his needs and the president's, Goldsmith said. His personal and business situations led Goldsmith to conclude that it was better for him to take a post that wouldn't require his full-time attention or to give up his private-sector jobs.
Goldsmith joined the Indianapolis law firm of Baker & Daniels after leaving the mayor's office at the beginning of last year. He also has been involved with the Internet firm he co-founded, Netgov.com, which develops government Web sites. Also weighing into his decision not to take a full-time government post is wife Margaret's battle with lymphatic cancer, he said.
"She continues to go through treatment and she has a great spirit, and we'll just kind of wait to see what happens," Goldsmith said.
Meanwhile, Goldsmith says he will continue to advise Bush on faith- and nonprofit-based issues. He also will be an adviser to DiIulio.
Goldsmith, who was Indianapolis' mayor from 1992 to 1999 and came close to being elected Indiana governor in 1996, did not consider Monday's announcement a disappointment.
"This is fine; I recommended John," Goldsmith said. "I had some family and business issues. This will give me more flexibility."
In announcing the program at a White House ceremony, Bush said, "We will not fund the religious activities of any group, but when people of faith provide social services, we will not discriminate against them."
The proposed combination of government and religion, though, drew quick opposition. At the Washington-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the Rev. Barry Lynn called Bush's initiative an assault on constitutional principle that will lead only to more litigation.
"The First Amendment was intended to create a separation between religion and government, not a massive new bureaucracy that unites the two," said Lynn, an attorney and United Church of Christ minister.
DiIulio said religious charities would be represented in no greater proportion than secular groups in the new initiative. He said his first priority would be literacy, and he and Goldsmith would solicit mentors from colleges, retirement communities, the military, corporations and churches. "This is a full-press civil-society agenda," he said.
Since December, Leslie Lenkowsky, director of the Indiana University Center for Philanthropy and a member of the board Goldsmith is joining, has been working closely with the Bush administration in developing the plan for the new Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Lenkowsky said Goldsmith's advisory role would give him freedom to work broadly in promoting the public policy of service and in working on government reform.
"President Bush wants to cast a wide net and influence the reach of these new approaches throughout the Cabinet," Lenkowsky said. "I would imagine Steve will play a key role."
The news was greeted with some confusion in Indiana. Titles such as "attorney general'' and "Cabinet secretary'' are easier to understand.
Some who know Goldsmith said personal considerations played a part -- from his wife's illness to financial considerations. He does not need to divest himself of business interests with the unpaid, advisory position that nonetheless keeps him in touch with the most powerful man in the nation, the president.
Others speculated that this was a comedown for an ambitious and intelligent man who had been Bush's chief domestic policy adviser during the campaign.
Indiana GOP Chairman Mike McDaniel, though, said it appeared that Goldsmith had gotten "the best of both worlds'' -- he still will be a top adviser to Bush without being tied to the single issue of faith-based initiatives.
Indiana House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said geography might have played a part in Goldsmith not getting a higher-profile post. Bush had picked Mitch Daniels, an Eli Lilly and Co. executive from Indianapolis, to be director of the Office of Management and Budget.
"The fact that we had one very high-profile person from Indianapolis probably made it difficult to look at a second one,'' Bosma said.
Meanwhile, DiIulio is no stranger to Bill Stanczykiewicz, former head of the Front Porch Alliance, which was Goldsmith's faith-based initiative when he was mayor. Both the former mayor and Stanczykiewicz looked to DiIulio's work in establishing the alliance in 1997.
DiIulio is best-known for his effort to find empirical evidence that faith-based approaches to social service work. He also is a Democrat, which could take some of the edge off of criticism that the new partnerships are unproven and are designed to serve religious conservatives.
Placing Goldsmith on an advisory board of the Corporation for National Service demonstrates Bush's desire to spread the faith-based partnership approach throughout his administration. With a $731.6 million annual budget, the corporation is best known for running AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America, the national teaching corps.
"There's a danger in creating a White House office for anything and that danger is that it will stay in the White House," Stanczykiewicz said. "It's very wise to drive this as wide as possible through the federal government and down to local communities."
Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer
Tuesday January 30 07:30 AM EST
Pa. man to head Bush's faith office
By Tom Infield and David O'Reilly ,INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
President Bush yesterday appointed a former South Philadelphia street kid, now a star professor at the University of Pennsylvania, to lead a controversial new White House office aimed at getting federal aid to religious groups for social programs.
Bush said at a White House signing ceremony that John J. DiIulio Jr., 42, Fox Leadership professor of politics, religion and civil society at Penn, would direct the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Bush said of DiIulio: "He is one of the most influential social entrepreneurs in America. . . . He's the author of a well-respected textbook on American government. He has a servant's heart on the issues that we will confront."
It will be the job of DiIulio, a self-described new Democrat and "card-carrying Catholic," to advance what Bush called "one of the great goals of my administration" - to find ways of funneling tax dollars to the religious and community groups that do much to help the needy, especially in cities.
"We will not fund the religious activities of any group," Bush said after signing two executive orders while flanked by 35 Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other sectarian leaders. "But when people of faith provide social services, we will not discriminate against them.
"As long as there are secular alternatives," he said, "faith-based charities ought to be able to compete for funding on an equal basis."
DiIulio has written a dozen books and is a regular contributor to both conservative and liberal publications. He is likely to be a strong, opinionated advocate for Bush's ideas - something the President will need for what promises to be an intense political battle.
Some secular groups fear the Bush plan would breach the wall separating church and state, while some religious organizations fear government aid would compromise their independence.
"We think it's a misguided public policy, and from a constitutional perspective it's a nightmare," said Steve Benen, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, based in Washington. "It's creating a new government."
Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint Convention, said that, while it might be acceptable for government agencies to make referrals of people in need, "the problem comes when government tries to dump dollars on thoroughly religious institutions, such as churches, to help finance their ministries."
"That's where we draw the line," Walker said.
Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) said that despite such opposition, the notion of helping faith-based organizations assist those in need had wide support in America. He said Bush's initiative showed his concern for urban and poor communities: "I don't know of any clearer signal that he intends to reach out, particularly to the African American community."
He predicted that whatever federal legislation might be necessary to facilitate Bush's plan would be passed by Congress.
Pennsylvania's other senator, Republican Arlen Specter, was less sanguine. He predicted a fight in Congress, and added that his own vote was not assured.
"I want to listen to what President Bush has in mind, but I have some immediate concerns about the separation of church and state," Specter said.
Bush yesterday also appointed former Indianapolis Mayor Steven Goldsmith to coordinate efforts at five cabinet-level departments in breaking down bureaucratic barriers to financing faith-based efforts. The departments are Justice, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Labor and Education.
Goldsmith offered assurances that the Bush administration would maintain secular service providers so that government would not "force someone through the door of a religious organization in order to get help. . . . It can fund the soup, it can fund the shelter, it shouldn't fund the Bibles."
DiIulio, the son of a deputy sheriff and a Strawbridge & Clothier saleswoman, is a onetime street-hockey player who spent his childhood first in South Philadelphia, then in Southwest Philadelphia. After St. Barnabas Elementary School, he attended the Haverford School on the Main Line - taking three buses each way - then commuted, by trolley, to Penn.
In a telling anecdote, Byron Johnson, a colleague at Penn, recounted how DiIulio, as a freshman, dropped into a doctorate-level social work class. He continued to attend until the professor discovered DiIulio did not belong - by which time he ranked first in the class.
DiIulio earned his doctorate at Harvard in 1986, and was quickly hired by Princeton, where he became a full professor in 1991 and was founding director of the Woodrow Wilson School's Center of Domestic and Comparative Policy Studies.
From an early interest in prisons and corrections policy, he became increasingly focused on the problem of juvenile offenders. His coinage of the term "super-predators" to describe ultra-violent young criminals and his prediction of a surge of violence in the early 21st century have earned him criticism as an alarmist.
The journal Legal Times in 1996 said DiIulio "is vehemently denounced by many criminologists." It quoted Norval Morris, a law professor at the University of Chicago and coeditor of The Oxford History of the Prison, as saying: "I do not think highly of his scholarship. . . . He preaches what people want to hear in a field where myth far outruns reality."
Others argue that DiIulio's high-profile language was tactically effective. James Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, said: "It got people's attention and angered some. But sometimes you need to do this to mobilize people."
Philadelphia has been cited nationally as a model for cooperation between faith groups and government. DiIulio has been a leader in promoting such partnerships and in studying whether they work better than purely governmental programs.
In an interview with The Inquirer last week, he suggested that volunteers, especially those motivated by religion, often offer more effective assistance than people paid to help those in need.
He called this "the faith factor," and said: "One thing that works with faith-based organizations is that godly people communicate steadfast care, and that has a powerful effect."
In the interview, he said his ideal plan for federal financing of such organizations would have the money go straight from Washington to charities - bypassing state and city governments in the hope of filtering out local political considerations about who gets what.
Penn professor Ram Cnaan, who works with DiIulio at the university's Center for Research and Religion and Urban Civic Society, said DiIulio would be guided by a hard-nosed sense of which programs work and which do not.
"He is a devout Christian and Catholic," Cnaan said. "He would not hide it from anyone. But he won't let his beliefs override his academic perspective. He is very smart, he is very critical, and he will analyze it for what it is."
Copyright © 2001 Yahoo! , Philadelphia Daily News and Inquirer and KnightRidder.com. All Rights Reserved.
Council on American-Islamic Relations: Muslims Support President's Faith-Based Initiative
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group, today offered its support for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives established today by President Bush.
In his statement supporting the President's initiative, CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said: "Muslim individuals and groups in cities around America work daily to provide free medical care, housing for the homeless and the abused, rehabilitation for prison inmates, as well as social services and relief for victims of natural disasters. In this vital work, the government should act as a supporter, not as an obstacle to overcome. Today's action by President Bush will only help American Muslims, and other faith communities, better serve those in need."
The head of this new office will make sure the government, when it works with private faith-based groups, is "fair and supportive." A second presidential executive order cleared away bureaucratic barriers and established centers in five agencies (Justice, HUD, HHS, Labor, Education) to ensure greater cooperation between the government and the private sector.
"Compassion is the work of a nation, not just a government...As long as there are secular alternatives, faith-based charities should be able to compete for funding on an equal basis and in a manner that does not cause them to sacrifice their mission," said President Bush.
There are an estimated six million Muslims in this country and some 1.2 billion worldwide.
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Transcript of Jan. 29 White House Press Briefing by Ari Fleischer
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Following is a transcript of a White House press briefing today by Ari Fleischer:
The James S. Brady Briefing Room
12:24 p.m. EST
MR. FLEISCHER: Good afternoon, thank you for joining us. I have no announcements, just want to make certain that if we haven't circulated it yet, you will be shortly getting the copies of the executive orders the President signed earlier today, creating the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives.
I'm happy to take any questions.
Q Ari, why should this faith-based initiative not be interpreted as an unconstitutional funding of religious institutions in America?
MR. FLEISCHER: Because as the President made clear in his statements just a little while ago that this will not be funding religion, but this will be funding faith-based organizations of a wide variety of views that bring social help to people in need. It's not the religious aspect of what they do that's getting funded, it's the community service aspect and there are other parts of this, too, that increase -- focus on increasing peoples' ability to give to charity and to nonprofits.
Q How do you make the distinction, when it's all going on under the same roof?
MR. FLEISCHER: Because the programs that they will provide are not going to be programs that preach religion. They're going to be faith-based programs --
Q How do you know that?
MR. FLEISCHER: -- that help people to improve their lives, which has been the experience that we have seen already with some of the faith-based programs that are privately funded, that are big successes.
Q What about the idea that religious organizations don't have to adhere to civil rights laws, and they may not be held to the same standards as private organizations who provide these social outreach functions --
MR. FLEISCHER: The President's focus will be on helping programs that work. He takes a look at the poor in our society, the people who have the most difficult needs, and he sees a need to help those people to improve their lives. And he recognizes that there are limits to what government programs can do. But that doesn't mean that our country and our society should give up on those who are in need -- addicts, alcoholics, the homeless, as he explained earlier today. And so he wants to find ways that work. And we have seen throughout our society that these faith-based programs, which often are strapped for cash, do work. They do improve people's lives. And that's why he is determined to push ahead.
Q What about the two concerns that I just raised? Might he put into legislation or might there be a proviso for funding that they have to adhere to the same civil rights laws that private organizations do, and that their people have to be subject to the same certification as other social outreach organizations that are private and not religious?
MR. FLEISCHER: You will see the proposal that he makes tomorrow. You can evaluate it and, of course, we'll be pleased to work with the Congress on any other issues that come up.
Q Does he address those concerns, specifically?
MR. FLEISCHER: You'll see tomorrow. He's making the proposal tomorrow.
Q Let me ask about the prescription drug plan. When do you intend to put it out? I think last week I heard you say that you thought there was a lot of room for compromise on that issue.
MR. FLEISCHER: We'll be putting it out early this afternoon. The President will be having a meeting with Chairman Grassley and with Chairman Thomas, and we'll be following that meeting. The President intends to send the proposal up to Capitol Hill, and that proposal will be just like he discussed during the course of the campaign -- an Immediate Helping Hand so we can get prescription drugs to low-income, needy seniors.
Q Did I hear you right when you said that -- I thought you said that there was a lot of room for compromise with Democrats on that. And, if so, what makes you think that?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the whole question of Medicare reform must be bipartisan. You cannot have a one-party approach to reform in Medicare. The Medicare program is much too important and much to central to the lives of our seniors. And so any proposal that anybody makes on Medicare, whether it's giving prescription drugs to seniors or whether it's structural reforms that involve Part A, Part B, all need to be explored in a fashion that brings Democrats and Republicans together.
I would remind you that we came very close in the last Congress; there was a bipartisan commission on Medicare reform. It had, I believe, 10 of the 17 members of the commission agreed on a recommendation. It was not welcomed by the previous White House, but there certainly is a mood for bipartisanship on Medicare reform, and President Bush will welcome it.
Q Ari, do you see this legislation moving as a separate bill or as a part of a broader reform either with prescription drugs or --
MR. FLEISCHER: The President's preference is that it move as a separate bill. That's what he announced during the campaign. At the same time, the President is very encouraged by what is a strong showing of strength for bipartisan Medicare reform. He is aware that there are some important people in the Congress who have expressed reservations about it moving as a separate bill, and we'll be pleased to work with them.
Q Ari, on the faith-based thing, as I understand it, you're kind of separating the overtly religious aspects from the community service aspects. Why doesn't that same kind of thinking apply to these international family planning groups that were saying, well, we're not using your federal dollars for abortion. We're getting that from some place else. The response here was, well, we've got to cut you off because you can't --
MR. FLEISCHER: I think we explored that issue last week. You know why the President did that. His reasons were clear.
Q On that question, a lot of these organizations work when people see the light, when they accept a faith. And so isn't this, in effect, government funding conversions?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, this is a voluntary program where those who seek to participate should have other options. We as a society have to face up to the fact that there are so many people in need who government programs aren't getting the job done. That doesn't mean we should walk away from those people. They need help, and the government can play a role through faith-based communities and nonprofits in delivering that help. The government shouldn't walk away or leave people languishing on welfare simply because some people raised questions about faith-based groups. Faith-based groups can often be the answer that helps people get off the street and back into life.
Q A lot of these groups hire only people of their religion and work only for people of their religion. Isn't that discrimination?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think as we just saw from the variety of people who participated in a very powerful meeting with the President, we have people from all walks of life, all religious faiths and backgrounds joined together in saying that the power of faith changed peoples' lives. And what's important is you let people voluntarily make the decision that they want to enter a certain program, and that's the first way to get them help.
If you're an addict, if you're an alcoholic -- it's very hard to be helped if you don't take that first step, yourself, to seek help. And we should welcome people to seek help where it can do them most good.
Q Even some churches are concerned that there will be strings attached to the federal money, and this can be a way to influence the churches.
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, as you'll see in the proposals he sends up tomorrow, and as they take the legislative path and as the bill works its way through the Congress, all concerns will be addressed. But the President is going to jdh ahead. He believes this is vital to helping improve the fabric of our society in this country.
In fact, one of the things he said in the meeting with the leaders is he said, the reason this will work is because America is full of love. And he believes very deeply that the reason we have a lot of people who are still in poverty, despite a myriad of government programs that have cost trillions of dollars, is because the government programs aren't always the best solution. So don't give up, capture the compassion of the American people and put it to work.
Q Do you expect the issue to wind up in the courts?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think we can draft something that is fully in accordance with the Constitution and, frankly, I think you're also going to see a large outpouring of bipartisan support for this. It gets sent up tomorrow and we'll monitor it.
Q On the question of prescription drugs, the complaint is that even though you're program is aimed at the poorest, virtually every senior has a problem paying for prescription drugs because they're so expensive and inflations is so high. How much wiggle room is there in your proposal to cover some of those people?
MR. FLEISCHER: Under the President's proposal, it was a two-part proposal, the first part was a four year, $48 billion Immediate Helping Hand that would get prescription drug coverage to seniors, the neediest seniors.
His comprehensive Medicare reform, which tracks with many other visions of comprehensive reform on the Hill, would be broader in nature, it would help more seniors.
Q Will it ultimately be a universal kind of benefit, as the Democrats have talked about?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the President's comprehensive proposal did apply to all seniors.
Q Ari, at his press briefing last week, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said, "It is not helpful to have Saddam Hussein's regime in power." He said, this is now a government policy. If it is government policy, what specifically is the President going to do to remove Saddam Hussein from power and does that possibly include military action?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think the President has made his position clear on that before, that we will protect America's interests and the region's interests in that area of the world. And we are prepared to do so, if necessary.
Q On the executive order, can you explain to us the difference between what the President can do by executive order and what he needs legislation for?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, the executive orders create the offices within the executive branch. He signed two executive orders today; the first creates within the administration the post of Office of Faith-based and Community Activity that reports directly to the President. The second executive order he signed creates in five various agencies, government Cabinet-level departments, those which work closest with people in their social problems and poverty, it created an office within each of those agencies to also find new solutions to old problems.
Beyond that, the legislation that we will send up tomorrow are going to be issues that require congressional action. For example, allowing all Americans to have a deduction for money they give to charity. In 1986, under the Tax Reform Act of 1986, 70 million Americans were denied the right to get a deduction for money they gave to charity. That was part of '86 reform. The President will propose tomorrow allowing all Americans, not just those who itemize their taxes, to get a deduction for giving money to charity. That will be one of the proposals he sends up to the Hill.
Q Ari, do you have to deal with legislation by some of the questions that were asked here about discrimination, possible discrimination, and so on?
MR. FLEISCHER: Clearly, anything that goes beyond the power of an executive order will have to be dealt with legislatively.
Q What's wrong with itemizing charity?
MR. FLEISCHER: People should be able to itemize their charitable deductions, but that doesn't mean that those who aren't in a position where they itemize should be denied a deduction of their own. So this extends one of the best benefits of our society to those who give to charity. We shouldn't divide people --
Q But those who accept it don't have to itemize, is that what you're saying?
MR. FLEISCHER: No, no, no, these are the givers, those who give money to charity. And, typically, those --
Q Why couldn't they itemize it?
MR. FLEISCHER: Because the only people who itemize, typically, are people who own a home and pay interest expenses on their home, or live in high property-tax states. There are 70 million Americans who, just because their income tax circumstances, don't itemize. And they should not be discriminated against by the tax code when they, too, give to charity.
(snipped out other topics).
Q I want to come back to faith-based. I talked with Reverend Rivers of the Ten Point Coalition. He said that he doesn't have a problem if this new legislation spells out separate branches of his organization, specifically as you deal with the social service component, to make sure that everyone is honest. I know you don't want to get into details until tomorrow, but is there a fire wall that organizations are going to have to establish to make sure that they're not supporting their religious activities?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think you heard the President address that today. That this is not going to fund religion, but this is going to fund faith-based groups that provide social services.
Q Ari, on that same subject, if I can follow up. I don't see why there's not a double standard at work here. The President is saying a taxpayer who opposes abortion shouldn't have to suffer his money to go to a group that provides international family planning counseling, even though it just may happen to also advocate abortion. But it's okay for a taxpayer, let's say me, to see my money go to someone who advocates actively conversion to a religion that's different from ours. Why is that not a double standard?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, I think you've misstated the program. There won't be any focus on conversion. That's not what the programs do.
Q Are you denying that any of these groups seek to convert people?
MR. FLEISCHER: It's the faith-based social services side of the program.
Q But they are talking about groups that do actively seek to convert you.
MR. FLEISCHER: Again, I think that on this issue, you're going to see a profound level of support from the American people on a bipartisan basis. It's also an area, interestingly, that Senator Lieberman reminded us during the course of the campaign, about the role that faith can play in our fabric of society.
Q But you don't see a double standard between the abortion executive order and the --
MR. FLEISCHER: No, I don't. In fact, domestically, that's been the long-standing policy of the country that you are addressing as international.
Q As governor, the President had a lot of these initiatives in place. Is there any hard evidence as to how effective or successful they were? Not anecdotal, but is there any evidence that more prisoners got off of drugs, or whatever?
MR. FLEISCHER: There is. Chuck Colson, during the meeting, told the President that during the prison ministry program in Texas that the recidivism rate is way below the recidivism rate for people who do not participate in the program. And I would refer you to that program. And I think if you interview many of the people who came in, they'll share with you their success stories, Floyd Flake, for example. There are a series of success stories. But the prison ministry program in Texas is one in particular.
Q There's no body of data here that you're relying on?
MR. FLEISCHER: Well, actually that did come up at the meeting and they talked about that once these programs are up and funded that we would welcome bodies of data to show the success and to make it empirical, as well. We will not shy away --
Q Would there be the same sort of accountability standards that you want for the schools in this country?
MR. FLEISCHER: I think you'll see that as it develops in the legislative process. The President's focus will be on those programs that work, as he has said. And so if a program is proved to be working, he is going to fund it. If a program is not working, he's going to look for alternatives.
Q I don't know if you can explain this, but I've never really understood the true division of church and state in this country. We swear people in, we use bibles, we have "in God we trust," we have chaplains on Capitol Hill. Where is there a real division?
MR. FLEISCHER: And I think, frankly, in the hearts and the minds of the American people, there is scant a sense of that. I think the American people recognize that we need to be sensitive to make certain that there is no proselytizing, for example. However, the American people also recognize that there are social problems that are not getting solved by the government, and that there is a vital role that we can play as a compassionate society to help those who are less fortunate through faith-based programs.
Church Leaders Applaud Bush Faith-Based Initiative Program
WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 /U.S. Newswire/ -- The Reverend Rob Schenck, spokesman for the National Clergy Council, representing thousands of church leaders from African American, Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant traditions, will today hail President Bush's anticipated announcement on his Office of Faith Based Initiatives.
Schenck, an evangelical minister, began his ministry work as executive director of Teen Challenge in New York State, a church sponsored rehabilitation program for troubled youth and a favorite charity of Mr. Bush's. Schenck later founded Operation Serve, a humanitarian relief agency that deploys medical and dental volunteers to serve the poor, and Hearts for the Homeless, a mobile advocacy program for indigent women, children and men. Schenck writes extensively on such programs in his book, The Ten Words That Will Change A Nation.
"President Bush is to be commended in the highest possible way for this effort. Religiously based social programs typically have the highest success rates, lowest costs and most personally interested staff. This is a bright development for America's future."
Schenck is in Washington today and available for further comment.
America's Religious Congregations: More Than a Place to Worship; New Study Measures Congregations' Contribution to Society
America's 353,000 religious congregations provide services to their communities beyond religious worship and education, according to a new report released by INDEPENDENT SECTOR. These services cover the entire spectrum of nonprofit activity, from basic human needs to the environment, health, arts and culture.
Nearly all congregations provide services beyond spiritual programs, including 92 percent in human services, 90 percent in health programs, 74 percent in international activities, 53 percent in education programs, 50 percent in arts and culture programs, and 40 percent in environment programs.
Nine out of 10 (92 percent) congregations rely on volunteers for their activities. While the majority of volunteer hours in churches, synagogues, and mosques focus on religious worship and education, approximately 43 percent are spent on congregations' other programs.
Congregations also invest significant financial resources in these programs. Forty percent (40 percent) of congregations reported that programs addressing social needs were one of their top three expenses. These included day care centers, drug recovery programs, homeless shelters, food kitchens, and gifts to disadvantaged families at holiday time.
Many religious groups offer programs directly through their congregation, while some collaborate with other organizations to provide services, including other nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, and business.
"This new report makes clear that this nation's religious congregations occupy a unique place in American society in the range of services they provide and the ways in which they are both independent and collaborative," said Susan K.E. Saxon-Harrold, Ph.D., Vice President, Research, INDEPENDENT SECTOR.
Increased Demand Congregations have seen an increased demand in recent years, and their first priority is to serve people in need. As a result, 41 percent of congregations opened a new program, 40 percent worked additional hours, and 39 percent added capacity to their existing programs. If they could not serve the increased need, 64 percent of congregations referred people to other organizations. In rare instances, 10 percent of congregations put people on waiting lists while 19 percent of congregations turned people away. For 19 percent of congregations, faith or affiliation with a religion was a prerequisite for gaining access to programs or activities.
Speaking Out Religious congregations also engage in activities that influence public policy. Thirty-five percent (35 percent) participated in coalitions with other organizations. A similar percentage of congregations sent a representative to personally meet with elected or appointed public officials. More than 27 percent of congregations actively supported issues by writing editorials or letters to the editors, and 16 percent bought advertising time or space in some type of commercial media for advocacy. These efforts by congregations cover the entire spectrum of social issues.
How Congregations Are Funded The study estimates that total revenue of religious congregations was $81.2 billion in 1996. Three-fourths (79 percent) of all revenue comes from charitable contributions by individuals. Collections made during religious services were the source of 58 percent of individuals' contributions to congregations. Other sources of revenue to religious congregations came from "earned income," such as dues and program fees (12 percent) and school tuition (4 percent). The remaining 5 percent is from a variety of sources such as denominational funding and foundation support. Less than 0.03 percent ($20 million) of congregational revenue came from government.
Religious Congregations' Place in the Nonprofit Sector The nation's 353,000 religious congregations represent nearly one-fourth of all nonprofit organizations. Religious congregations engaged 45 million volunteers, nearly half of the 109 million Americans who volunteer. Congregations employ approximately 1.3 million paid staff, or 11 percent of employment within the nonprofit sector. Sixty percent (60 percent) of the average household contribution goes to religious organizations.
About the Report The report, titled "America's Religious Congregations: Measuring their Contribution to Society," presents new analysis from two national surveys conducted by INDEPENDENT SECTOR in 1998 and 1993, as well as data from its biennial survey Giving and Volunteering in the United States, 1999. Funding for the research was provided by the Ford Foundation, The Lilly Endowment, and other donors supporting the INDEPENDENT SECTOR Measures Project. The resulting publication was made possible by a grant from The Lilly Endowment.
The full 12-page report is available free on the INDEPENDENT SECTOR Web site at http://www.IndependentSector.org. A colorful printed version is also available for purchase at 888-860-8118.
------ INDEPENDENT SECTOR is a national leadership forum, working to encourage philanthropy, volunteering, not-for-profit initiative and citizen action that help us better serve people and communities. Founded in 1980 and based in Washington, D.C., INDEPENDENT SECTOR is a national coalition of more than 700 voluntary organizations, foundations and corporate giving programs with national interest and impact in philanthropy and voluntary action.
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