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Religious laws


U.S. Government funding
of charitable choice programs

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Sponsored link.

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A "charitable choice" or "compassionate conservatism" or "faith-based initiative" program is an arrangement by which religious groups can compete for federal, state or local government funding, in competition with secular non-profit organizations. 1 This involves tax money directed for the operation of a religiously-based social service program. Examples might include funding a church's low rental housing program, or a spiritually-oriented drug rehabilitation center.

The federal government's Department of Health & Human Services defines "charitable choice" as resting on four principles:

bulletA Level Playing Field. Faith-based providers are eligible to compete for funds on the same basis as any other providers, neither excluded nor included because they are religious, too religious or of the wrong religion.
bulletRespect for Allies. The religious character of faith-based providers is protected by allowing them to retain control over the definition, development, practice, and expression of their religious beliefs. Neither federal nor state government can require a religious provider to alter its form of internal governance or remove religious art, icons, scripture or other symbols in order to be a program participant.
bulletProtecting Clients. In regard to rendering assistance, religious organization shall not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion, a religious belief, or refusal to actively participate in a religious practice. If an individual objects to the religious character of a program, a secular alternative must be provided.
bulletChurch-State Separation. All government funds must be used to fulfill the public social service goals, and no direct government funding can be diverted to inherently religious activities such as worship, sectarian instruction, and proselytizing. 2

Not mentioned are two additional principles:

bulletEmployment discrimination: Faith-based providers can enforce any bigoted beliefs they might have by discriminating in their hiring selections on the basis of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, age, skin color, national origin etc., even though these factors do not impact on the individual's ability to perform the tasks assigned to them.
bulletReligious discrimination: In practice, it appears that grants are not given to some minority religions.

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Topics in this section:

bulletIntroduction: Quotations, Overview, Public opinion polls

bulletPotential scenarios - good and bad

bulletAn expose of corruption in the faith-based initiative program

bulletChurch-state separation breached: "Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation"
bulletReactions to this case

bulletLegislation and court action
bullet1988 to 2001-FEB
bullet2001-FEB to present time

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  1. Marvin Olasky, George W. Bush, "Compassionate Conservativism: What it is, what it does and how it can transform America, " Free Press (2000). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
  2. "What is Charitable Choice?," Department of Health and Human Services, 2004-JUL-26, at: http://www.hhs.gov/fbci/choice.html

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Site navigation: Home > Religious laws > here

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Copyright © 2000, 2001 & 2004 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2000-DEC-23
Latest update: 2004-JUL-27
Author: B.A. Robinson

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