NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Bush Faith-based Plan Needs Fine Tuning

March 6, 2001

Faith-based organizations have a record of success, in organizations as diverse as Teen Challenge (which achieves an 80 percent cure rate for teenage addicts), Chuck Colson's Prison Fellowship Ministries and Catholic schools. So President Bush's faith-based initiative isn't entirely misguided, according to Pat Robertson -- but it needs to be modified.

Here's the problem with government-assisted faith-based charities: if government provides money, but for reasons of church-state separation demands recipients give up their religious activities, then their effectiveness and even their raison d'etre may be lost.

Here is a version of the plan that would answer the objections:

  • Faith-based organizations that want assistance could request a screening by the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives based on objective criteria, such as their financial integrity, record keeping, supervision and bank accountability.
  • The organizations would then be listed in a government registry along with a list of projects the government wishes to support; donors could then specify which projects got their money.
  • The charities would be required to segregate these designated funds and be prepared to document the fact that the donated funds were used in the manner specified.
  • The government, rather than make direct grants to the faith-based institutions, would offer dollar-for-dollar tax credits (not deductions) to donors who support approved projects.

Source: Pat Robertson (Christian Broadcast Network), "Bush Faith-Based Plan Requires An Overhaul," USA Today, March 5, 2001.


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