NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

When 'Faith-Based Initiatives' Collide With Church-State Separation

February 21, 2003

Without sensible rules, the advantages of expanding faith-based charities threatens to undermine First Amendment principles.

Last month, a group comprised of individuals ranging from evangelical Christians to the fiercest defenders of church-state separation reached a consensus on how to avoid such a pitfall.

Their proposals include tax incentives, technical assistance to grassroots organizations and expanding AmeriCorps to supplement the staffs of social-service groups.

Here are just a few of their specific recommendations:

  • Help small groups find ways to deal with federal requirements.
  • Clarify eligibility rules for government aid and restrictions on religious activities.
  • Expand federal volunteer programs to supplement the staffs of local organizations.
  • Encourage religious congregations to establish separate groups for service projects.

In all, the Working Group on Human Needs and Faith-based and Community Initiatives came up with 29 recommendations.

Source: Editorial, "Clear Ground Rules Quell Worries on Religious Funding," USA Today, February 20, 2003.


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