President George W Bush has launched his plan to use government money to support social services run by religiousorganizations.
Appearing yesterday with 35 religious leaders, Bush signed an executive order that set up the White House Office ofFaith-Based and Community Initiatives. The office will serve as a liaison to religious groups and encourage them toseek government money. Bush also established centers at the Departments of Justice, Education, Labor, Health andHuman Services, and Housing and Urban Development to ensure that they cooperate with religious and secular non-profitgroups. He ordered these departments to end regulations that could impede the flow of funds.
Bush explained, "Everyone ... knows first hand that there are still deep needs and real suffering in the shadow ofAmerica’s affluence."
"Problems like addiction and abandonment and gang violence, domestic violence, mental illness and homelessness. Whenwe see social needs in America, my administration will look first to faith-based programs and community groups...."
He insisted that government would never be replaced by charities.
But the question remains: Will private religious charities—not bound by anti-discrimination laws and not accountableto an electorate— replace government?
- Katha Pollitt, columnist for the Nation Magazine.
- Stephen Lazarus, with the Center for Public Justice.
- Dan Katz, of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.