"We want to fund programs that save Americans
one soul at a time."
President George W. Bush, January, 2004, in a speech in
In this section:
Transformation from Secular to
Faith-Based Lock Up
The Civil Rights Act, 1964
from Secular to Religious Government
Under the Bush administration, our country is experiencing a
major transformation from a secular to a religious government.
The President's faith-based initiative is central to this
transformation and raises serious questions about church-state
separation. "Slouching toward theocracy. President
Bush's faith-based initiative is doing better than you
think," by Bill
Berkowitz, 2/6/04 provides an overview of this
In his State of the Union address, Bush renewed a call for
Congress to make permanent his faith-based proposals that
would allow religious organizations to compete for more
government contracts and grants without a strict separation
between their religious activities and social service
On February 4, 2004, the U.S. House of Representatives voted
for provisions in a social services bill that allow religiously
based job discrimination in publicly funded programs run by
How Much Money?
How much are taxpayers paying for what Barry Lynn, Executive
Director of American's United calls "federally subsidized
employment discrimination?" According to Daniel Zwerdling
who produced two programs on faith-based initiative for Bill
Moyers TV show NOW in September, 2003, "administration
spokesmen say they can't break down how much money has gone so
far to religious groups .. they claim they don't keep that
The March, 2004, issue of Church and State reports
that the "Faith Czar" Jim Towey announced to reporters
that $40 billion dollars was now available to religious
By studying White House press releases and the White House
web site, Daniel Zwerdling found that religious groups could
apply to more than a hundred federal programs that gave out more
than $65 billion. In addition, religious groups ccould apply for
more money through state-administered programs.
From the Washington Post, January 4, 2005:
.. in 2003, groups dubbed "faith-based" received
$1.17 billion in grants from federal agencies, according to
documents provided by the White House to the Associated Press.
That's not enough, said H. James Towey, director of the
White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
An additional $40 billion in federal money is given out by
state governments, he said..
This is the text of an executive order signed by Bush on June
On September 22, 2003, the White House announced new rules
making $28 billion available to religious charities that
proselytize and discriminate in hiring. Susan Jacoby, director
of the Center for Inquiry in Metro New York claims "The
White House has taken what may be its boldest step yet
to blur the constitutional separation of church and state."
While the White House announced these controversial new rules,
the media hardly paid attention.
While religious charities receive billions of dollars,
federal programs are experiencing funding cuts. The largest
federally funded after-school program, the $1 billion-a-year
21st Century Community Learning Centers program is threatened
with a budget reduction of $400 million for the Fiscal Year
2004. The resulting cuts in Washington D.C. alone could
eliminate after-school services for 2,902 District children.
As reported in the Washington
Post, Congress has ordered more than $3 million in
grants since 2001 earmarked for respected former Redskins
cornerback Darrell Green's Youth Life Foundation, with the goal
in part of opening more Green learning centers here and in other
cities. But his center is directly serving only 38 kids, in a
city where 35,000 live in poverty.
From Church and State editorial, March 9, 2004:
The Corporation for National and Community Service has
allocated $324,000 in Americorps funding for staffing at four
daycare centers run by the Roman Catholic Diocese of
But The Children's Crusade, a mentoring program that has
won national honors, lost all its budget of half a million
dollars. The group had hoped to partner 35 young adults with
poor minority children. That won't be happening now.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State has
been following Bush's Faith-Based Initiative since he assumed
the office of President. They have filed lawsuits, and their
magazine, Church and State, has many
important, in-depth articles.
From Americans United, August 17, 2004:
A new study of the "faith-based" initiative
raises troubling questions about the Bush administration's
disregard for constitutional and civil rights protections,
according to Americans United for Separation of Church and
The report issued today by the Roundtable on Religion and
Social Welfare Policy lists the many executive actions
President George W. Bush has taken to fund a wide range of
religion-based social services. The sweeping changes in
federal policy, the report indicates, have come without
Philadelphia Church That Endorsed Bush Gets $1 Million
Wednesday June 23, 2004
"The Rev. Lusk endorsed candidate Bush, and wound up
getting a $1-million faith-based grant from the Bush
administration," [Barry] Lynn said. "Now there's a
January, 2003, Church and State:
"On Dec. 12, speaking to over 1,000 religious and
charitable leaders gathered at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in
Philadelphia, George W. Bush launched another major offensive
in his drive to implement his controversial
"faith-based" initiative. Circumventing a reluctant
Congress, which has refused to enact the administration's
scheme, Bush announced a sweeping package of executive actions
to encourage churches and other religious groups to apply for
billions in government contracts to help the
From Church and State, October, 2002,
"Not willing to let a skeptical Congress delay its plan
for government-funded religion, the Bush administration is
moving ahead with the faith-based initiative anyway."
Church and State, May, 2003, brings
good news! A powerful coalition formed in the U.S. Senate to
derail President Bush and U.S. Senator Rick Santorum's efforts
to pass legislation making it legal to discriminate in
employment. As a result, the final legislation is nothing like
the Bush/Santorum plan. This 'good news' article affirms the
power of coalition building in the Senate.
Church and State, November, 2002,
highlights a report documenting major problems with the Faith
Based program that has been implemented in Texas for the past
"The Bush 'Faith-Based' Orders:
Dangerous Decrees, Church and State. On Dec.
12, 2002, President George W. Bush issued two executive orders
putting into place his controversial "faith-based"
initiative, February, 2003. (So far, I haven't been able to find
this article on AU's newly reformatted web site -jb) more
Sierra magazine, January-February,
2004, has a feature article on abstinence-only education in the
public schools. Federally funded programs are based on fear and
end up proselytizing. A Louisianna state judge has ruled that
the proselytizing must stop or the programs risk defunding.
"For Louisianna seventh graders, abstinence-only
education appears first and foremost to be about terrifying
diseases: suppurating boils, endless rashes, sterility,
cancers, and the physical and psychic morbidity with which
they are to be punished for having sex before marriage."
"Hundreds of federally funded abstinence-only programs
are run by faith-based groups. The Louisianna American Civil
Liberties Union found that ... thousands of dollars went to
programs that included prayers as well as continuous
referrences to God, Jesus Christ, and the spiritual
repercussions of sex before marriage."
Faith Base Lock Up
In Lawtey, Florida, Gov. Jeb Bush dedicated what is being called
the nation's first religion-based prison.
A North Florida prison will be converted into the nation's
first faith-based lockup. Critics say public money shouldn't
be spent on religious programs.
"This is a clearly unconstitutional scheme," said
the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United.
"A state can no more create a faith-based prison than it
could set up faith-based public schools or faith-based police
Americans United filed a lawsuit to block a similar
state-sponsored fundamentalist Christian project operating with
public funds at a prison in Iowa. That case, which challenges
state support of Charles Colson's InnerChange program, is
pending in federal court.
How the the InnerChange Prison Fellowship program cooked the
books so that the program's failure looks like a success. To
read about Americans United current litigation, click here.
Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a non-profit
group that represents park workers and public employees,
charged in a release last week that the National Park Service
is hell-bent on removing images of anti-Vietnam War
demonstrations, pro-choice marches and gay rights marches from
an eight-minute video tape located at the Lincoln Memorial
covering historic gatherings that have taken place there and
on the Washington Mall.
"The park service leadership now caters exclusively to
conservative Christian fundamentalist groups," stated
PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch in his group's release.
"The Bush Administration appears to be sponsoring a
program of Faith-Based Parks."
"... morality conservative groups have a special entree
with decision makers at the Park Service and the White
The federal government lost a lawsuit when a federal court
ruled that a program crossed the line between church and state.
From the Washington Post July 6, 2004: "America
Corps Loses Suit on Religion:"
The federal agency that oversees AmeriCorps must stop
financing programs that place volunteers in Catholic schools,
a judge has ruled, saying it unconstitutionally crosses the
line between church and state.
Marvin Olasky, a Reconstructionist influenced professor of
Journalism, has served as a close advisor to Bush. Olasky's
book, Compassionate Conservatism,
creates a justification for Bush's policies on faith based
giving. Bush wrote the forward to the book published in 2000.
Olasky is a compelling writer who shares his philosophical ideas
through heart-wrenching and inspiring human interest stories. He
makes a strong case for faith based giving. Evangelical
Christian charities succeed, according to Olasky, where
government fails. Olasky sees no problem with government funds
going to missions that proselytize. The fact that someone who is
hungry and vulnerable might have to undergo a religious
conversion to get food and shelter doesn't bother him.
Increasingly--and more often than not, with the explicit
cheerleading and support of dominionist groups--there is an
emphasis for reliance on "faith based" initiatives,
such as "faith based" rehab programs, "faith
based" disaster aid charities, etc. Unfortunately, this
is often turning into a chance for faith-based coercion--often
on what is, quite literally, a captive audience. more
Bill Moyers program, NOW, (the first of a two-part series)
aired on PBS September 26, 2003, makes clear the problem with
proselytizing. The TV show focuses on one program that trains
church volunteers to help lift people out of poverty. At first,
the whole concept looked truly wonderful. A volunteer family
infuses a young, struggling mother of three with love and a
sense of caring -- which is very moving.
Then the pressure begins to join their church. This
"loving" family is all the support this young mother
has in the world, and she feels deeply conflicted about joining
their church. When she was asked by the interviewer about
joining the church, her face froze in what looked like silent
terror. She hadn't wanted to join, but appeared to be terrified
of losing the love and support of her sponsoring family. The
sponsoring family told the interviewer that they're taught not
to invite the family to their church for the first month, and
that they never told the woman that she had to join. But it's
clear that the invitations to go to church would not let up.
That look of frozen terror on the young woman's face
illustrated dramatically the dangers of government funding for
church sponsored charities. Millions of young, vulnerable
mothers and struggling families will feel coerced to join the
"correct" evangelical churches.
The Civil Rights Act, signed into law by President Lyndon
B. Johnson in 1964, poses a problem to faith base charities
receiving tax-payer dollars, for it bans discrimination in
employment on the basis of race, gender, or religion. But
religious charities receiving faith based dollars don't want to
be forced to hire people of other religions, and especially
don't want to hire gays or lesbians. The President doesn't let
the Civil Rights Act deter him from giving money to charities
that discriminate in hiring.
The Washington Post reported back in July, 2001,
that the Bush administration made a deal with the Salvation
Army. The Salvation Army would spend upwards of $110,000 per
month to lobby for Bush's faith Based Initiative, and the White
House would give the Salvation Army a "firm
commitment" allowing greater freedom in discrimination
against gays in employment. The New York Times
reports, 2/5/04, that the New York City Salvation Army is
requiring employees to fill out forms stating their religion,
among other things.
Senator Rick Santorum vowed to actually rewrite the
anti-discrimination laws. There's a difference between
executivte orders and changing the law. Executive orders can be
changed by the next president, but laws are lasting.
Senator Santorum and President Bush have been trying to
change anti-discrimination laws through Congress for religious
charities, but they failed, and this is an important and little
known success story. After haggling with the Senate for two
years, the CARE Act was finally passed. It allows taxpayers who
do not itemize tax deductions to write off a portion of their
charitable donations for two years. It is vastly different from
the Bush/Santorum plan.
The Bush/Santorum plan was stopped by effective
organizing. Americans United for Separation of Church and State
helped form the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination or
(CARD). This coalition brought together fifty two religious,
public policy and educational organizations. Members include the
Unitarian Universalist Association, the Interfaith Alliance, the
NAACP, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, the
National Education Association, The National Association of
Social Workers, The American Academy of Pediatrics, American
Baptist Churches and the Rabbinical Assembly. For a full list of
the 52 organizations, go to stopreligiousdiscrimination.org. The
CARD coalition is a good example of effective grassroots
An article by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman
(12/17/02), discusses a move by the Bush administration to
enable agencies that receive government funding to discriminate.
Another problem with Bush's program is the potential for
political manipulation. The Republican Party campaigned to bring
traditionally Democratic constituencies into its fold in the
2002 elections. U.S. Rep. Anne M. Northup (R-Ky.) created a
non-profit organization to steer federal money to religious
groups in order to boost her political strength in the
and State, "Preaching The GOP Gospel,
Using His 'Faith-Based' Initiative To Try To Win Converts In The
African-American Community, Bush Seeks To Make His Calling And
Election Sure," Sept., 2003:
Rep. Northup was never popular in the black community before.
Now her non-profit, Louisville Neighborhood Initiative Inc.,
(LNI) doles out federal money to poor, mostly minority
neighborhoods. "I can't paint a clearer picture," said
the Rev. C. Mackey Daniels, pastor of West Chestnut Baptist
Church. "The support was given in order to get votes."
U.S. Rep. Robert Ehrlich in his bid for governor of Maryland
promised to use money from Bush's faith-based initiative to
build support in African-American churches.
Justice Sunday III' Pastor Has Received $1 Million In
'Faith-Based' Funds, Americans United, January 4, 2005:
Pastor Herb Lusk, the Philadelphia preacher hosting the
Religious Right-led "Justice Sunday III" rally this
weekend, has a long history of partisan activity on behalf of
Republicans and has been awarded more than $1 million in
"faith-based" grants by the Bush administration ...