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A fter more than two years of haggling, in early April the Senate passed the Charity Aid, Recovery and Empowerment (CARE) Act of 2003 (S. 476), a severely stripped-down version of President Bush’s highly-touted faith-based initiative. While the House has yet to pass its version of a faith-based bill, the proposals most noxious element, the charitable choice exemption, will remain on the cutting room floor. Although the president’s full faith-based initiative failed to generate enough Congressional or public support, the core of his project is alive and well as Administration-driven, faith-based programs move forward at a steady clip.
The passage of the CARE Act by the Senate resulted from a carefully crafted compromise engineered by Senators Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT). The bill grants new tax breaks for donations to religious and other charities; gives $1.4 billion in subsidies to a variety of social service programs through the Social Services Block Grant program for fiscal years 2003 and 2004; and provides $150 million in technical assistance grants to help small charities apply for grants and expand their community outreach.
In addition, in what Focus on the Family characterizes as a provision “tucked inside the legislation,” the CARE Act “erases the distinction between [grassroots lobbying and what is known as direct lobbying] allowing more time and money to be spent on grassroots lobbying.”
While President Bush admitted that the new bill fell short of his goal of more government funding for faith-based programs, in a written statement he commended “the Senate for acting in a bipartisan way to pass legislation that will help us meet our shared goal of better serving Americans in need. This legislation contains key elements of the faith-based initiative that I proposed more than two years ago to encourage more charitable giving and rally the armies of compassion that exist in communities all across America.”
Ken Connor, of the Washington, DC-based Family Research Council, declared that the president’s faith-based initiative had “all but fizzled in the Senate. Mr. Bush’s signature plan to allow religious and faith-based groups to compete equally for federal funding has been whittled down to almost nothing. Not even faith remains in the faith-based initiative, as anti-discrimination protections to allow groups to maintain their religious character have been dropped at the insistence of Democrats.”
Despite disappointment among some on the Religious Right, work on the president’s faith-based initiative is moving ahead. Seven government agencies—the Departments of Justice, Agriculture, Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and the Agency for International Development—have established Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The object of these Centers is “to promote the Administration’s faith-based and community agenda by changing how the federal government op- erates,” according to the White House website.
Less than ten days after his inauguration, President Bush, surrounded by clergy representing a number of different faiths, issued an executive order that created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFB- CI). The president appointed longtime criminologist and political scientist John DiIulio to head the operation. The initiative had two primarily objectives: (1) Removing “barriers” prohibiting faith-based organizations from receiving government funds, and allowing them to provide an array of social services; and (2) offering tax incen- tives to encourage greater chari- table giving.
The subtext of the president’s initiative was characterized by Lewis C. Daly of the Institute for Democracy Studies, as an ambitious proposal “to transfer a sweeping range of government social services directly into the hands of America’s churches.”
Prominent conservatives and liberals were quick to voice their opposition: Conservatives were alarmed that the Church of Scientology, the Nation of Islam, the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, and other organizations of their ilk would now become eligible for government grants. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said he wouldn’t touch faith-based money “with the proverbial ten-foot pole.” Civil liberties organizations and gay rights groups were concerned that the initiative would further blur the lines of separation between church and state, as well as the potential for discriminatory hiring practices by religious organizations that are fundamentally op- posed to hiring gays and lesbians.
The initiative suffered a string of setbacks. By July 2001, DiIulio resigned and a few months later Jim Towey was appointed new director of OFBCI. The office was placed under the wing of John Bridgeland, who had been appointed to head of the U.S. Freedom Corps. A major crisis unfolded when the Washington Post revealed that top administration officials had tried to solicit support from the Salvation Army by offering a firm commitment that any legislation the White House supported would allow religious organizations to sidestep state and local anti-discrimination measures barring discriminatory hiring practices on the basis of sexual orientation.
An early March forum, “The Faith-Based Initiative Two Years Later: Examining its Potential, Progress and Problems,” offered a progress report on two years in the life of the faith-based initiative. Sponsored by the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, a project of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, the pros and cons of faith- based initiatives were debated by Stanley Carlson-Thies, who worked in the White House Office of Faith- Based and Community Initiatives from February 2001 to May 2002, and the Rev. Barry Lynn, the executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. In introductory remarks, Richard Nathan, director of the Rockefeller Institute of Government, noted that participation by religious groups in the provision of social services “is a very high priority for this president and this Administration. It shows you what the bully pulpit can do to energize groups and to create tremendous interest in how faith groups can help deal with social issues.”
Carlson-Thies pointed out that long before there was a Bush administration “the government was funding child and family-serving agencies that were expressly faith- based, in terms of what they displayed on their walls, prayers over meals, encouraging discussion of religious matters, and giving preference to staff of the same faith, and so on.”
The controversial “Charitable Choice” initiative—inserted by then-Senator John Ashcroft into the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act in 1996, which allowed religious organizations to infuse religious beliefs into service programs while still receiving government funding—was no longer “just a debate topic,” Carlson-Theis said. It is “a public policy innovation that’s already reshaping how federally funded services are delivered at the state and local levels.”
In its report “Leaving Our Children Behind: Welfare Reform and the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community,” the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Policy Institute said “charitable choice” demanded “no fiscal accountability,” had “no requirement that religious institutions not discriminate,” and provided “no safeguard against recipients of social services being subjected to proselytizing and other forms of coercive activity.” Carlson-Thies participated in the writing of “The Unlevel Playing Field: Barriers to Participation by Faith-Based and Community Organizations in Federal Social Service Programs,” a White House document that tried to turn the discussion on faith-based initiatives away from whether they violated the principle of the separation of church and state towards charges that the government was discriminating against faith-based organizations. He pointed out that Bush’s project was essentially engaged in “renegotiating the church-state boundaries [which] is one key part of renegotiating the relationship between government and civil society, and such renegotiations are taking place in many countries.”
A critical question about faith-based initiatives is whether these programs work as well as or better than secularly run programs? Carol DeVita of the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy recently told the Salt Lake City’s Desert News, “the jury’s still out” on this and other important questions since there hasn’t been a study yet of the content of faith-based programs that are receiving government grants.
Supporters of the initiative claim to have reams of anecdotal evidence, also known as “these-guys- are-walking-around-feeling-better” stories. The Rev. Barry Lynn pointed out that given the huge expenditure—coupled with the fact that appropriations for other services will have to be cut in order to provide funds for faith-based programs—anecdotal evidence is an absurd way to measure whether the programs are meeting its goals. “Science, technology, common sense, and logic [should be used] in deciding how to distribute scarce funds,” Lynn said.
In one of the most comprehensive studies on faith-based initiatives to date, the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund found, “After five years of aggressively implementing the Bush-led Faith- Based Initiative in Texas, positive results have proven impossible to document or measure. Evidence points instead to a system that is unregulated, prone to favoritism and co-mingling of funds, and even dangerous to the very people it is supposed to serve.”
According to the October 2002 report, The Texas Faith-Based Initiative at Five Years: Warning Signs as President Bush Expands Texas-Style Program to National Level, “The Faith-Based Initiative has proven to be a treacherous enterprise for houses of worship, taxpayers, and people in need alike. So treacherous, in fact, that even the very legislators who once promoted the Faith-Based Initiative in Texas have now abandoned the idea.”
T he Civil Rights Act of 1964 contains an exemption that allows churches, mosques, and synagogues to hire only members of their faith. Last December, President Bush issued an executive order extending this exemption to faith- based organizations that receive government grants to provide a broad array of social services. The New York Times editorialized that the president had “punched a dangerous hole in the wall between church and state…eas[ing] the way for religious groups to receive federal funds to run social services.”
In this year’s State of the Union address the president announced a $600 million voucher for drug- treatment program. Earlier in the month, the Administration announced its intention to allow public funds to be spent on rehabilitating church buildings where social services are offered. The Washington Post editorialized on what appeared to be a new broad-based Administration strategy for implementing its faith-based agenda: “Once, he [President Bush] tackled it head-on, as a centerpiece of his compassionate conservatism. He did it by supporting, say, increased funding for faith-based groups or tax deductions for charitable contributions. Now he seems to have retreated to something more like a ‘reinventing government’ strategy, using executive orders and rule changes. For him, this has the advantage of tackling bureaucratic hostility to faith-based groups. But for the nation, it has a great disadvantage of ducking debate on the thicket of central constitutional principles involved.”
“The faith-based initiative of this administration is a lot more than a specific piece of legislation.... To announce it is dead in its tracks is not true at all,” said Michael S. Joyce, president of the Foundation for Community and Faith Centered Enterprise (FCFE), and longtime supporter of faith-based initiatives.
Joyce, who helped fund a number of faith-based projects when he headed the conservative Harry and Lynde Bradley Foundation, understands that the battle over the separation of church and state, “charitable choice,” and government funding of religious organizations will not end with the passage and signing of the CARE Act. The Administration will accept the watered- down CARE Act because it recognizes that it is all it could achieve at this time. Besides, according to the Associated Press, Senator Santorum promised “to revisit the issue when a bill renewing the welfare program comes to the floor later this year.”
Bill Berkowitz is a freelance writer covering conservative movements.
Z Magazine Archive
AnnouncementsLABOR - May 1 is May Day. Workers of the world will celebrate the 124th anniversary of International Worker’s Day. Born out of a call for an 8-hour workday in the United States, this day is an opportunity for all workers to show their solidarity with one another, as well as to renew the call for labor rights.
FARM CONFERENCE - The Farm Conference on Community and Sustainability will be held May 24-26 in Summertown, TN, in partnership with the Fellowship of Intentional Communities. Tour green homes, see sustainable food production, learn about solar installations, alternative education, midwifery, and more.
Contact: Douglas@thefarmcommunity.com; http://www.thefarmcommunity.com/.
PALESTINE - The Conference of the Palestinian Shatat in North American will be held June 3-5 in Vancouver. The conference will examine the future of the Palestinian liberation movement.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.palestinianconference.org/.
LABOR - The Pacific Northwest Labor History Association’s 45th annual conference will be held May 3-5, in Portland, OR. This year’s theme is Labor Under Attack: Learning from the Past and Preparing for the Future. A call for presentations, workshops and papers is currently underway.
Contact: PNLHA, 27920 68th Ave. East, Graham, WA 98338; 206-406-2604; PNLHA1@aol.com; http://www3.telus.net.
MARIJUANA - On the first Saturday of May marijuana legalization activists will hold informational and educational events, rallies and marches in over 300 cities around the world.
ECONOMICS - The Union For Radical Political Economics will hold its 39th annual conference May 9-11 in New York City.
RECLAIM THE DREAM - The 2013 Poor People’s Campaign & March from Baltimore to Washington D.C. will be May 11. Communities, schools and unions interested in participating are encouraged to contact the Baltimore People’s Assembly.
Contact: 410-500-2168; 410-218-4835; BaltimorePeoplesAssembly@gmail.com; Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Baltimore and the Baltimore Peoples Power Assembly, 2011 N. Charles St., Baltimore, MD 21218.
MOTHER’S DAY - The 17th Annual Mother’s Day Walk For Peace will be May 12th, in Dorchester, MA. The walk began in 1996 for families who had lost children to violence. The day has become a way for thousands of people to financially support the work of the Louis Brown Peace Institute.
Contact: http://www.ldbpeaceinstitute.org/; http://mothersdaywalk4peace.org/.
NATO 5 - An International Week of Solidarity with the NATO 5 has been called for May 16-21. Supports call on supporters to raise awareness of the NATO 5 and support funds for the defendants on the one-year anniversary of their preemptive arrests.
Contact: email@example.com; https://nato5support.wordpress.com.
MOUNTAINTOP - The 2013 Mountain Justice Summer Activist Training Camp will be held May 19-27 in Damascus, VA. It will be a week of workshops, field trips to view Mountain Top Removal coal mines, direct actions, and service project.
FEMINIST SCI-FI - The feminist science fiction convention WisCon 37 is scheduled for May 24-27 in Madison, WI.
Contact: WisCon, ? SF3, PO Box 1624, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.wiscon.info/.
ANARCHY FEST - A month-long Festival of Anarchy is scheduled for May in Montreal. The festival includes The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (May 19-20).
Contact: http://www.anarchistbookfair.ca/; http://www.radicalmontreal.com/.
LABOR - The International Labor Rights Forum will present: Down the Supply Chain, Driving Corporate Accountability, on May 22 in Washington, DC. The Labor Rights Awards Ceremony and Reception will honor pioneers in supply chain worker organizing, working solidarity and international labor rights policy.
MULTICULTURE - The 26th annual National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in American Higher Education (NCORE) will take place May 28-June 1, in New Orleans.
Contact: SWCHRS, 3200 Marshall Avenue, Suite 290, Norman, OK 73072; 405-325-3694; email@example.com; www.ncore.ou.edu.
MEDIA - The 2013 Alliance for Community Media Annual Conference will be held May 29-31, in San Francisco, CA. Participants will include educators, community leaders, media professionals, journalists, nonprofit leaders, policymakers and students.
RADIO - The 38th Annual Community Radio Conference is schedule for May 29-June 1, in San Francisco, CA, with discussions and workshops.
Contact: 1101 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20004; 202-756-2268; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.nfcb.org/.
BRADLEY MANNING - On June 1, a rally will be held at Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike-A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides scheduled, music, exhibitors and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; email@example.com; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in New York City.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduated Center, ? Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
Contact: 122 State Street, Suite 405 B, Madison, WI 53701; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://veganfest.org/.
ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16, in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops on civil rights, media and other topics.
Contact: 1990 M Street, Suite 610, Washington, DC, 20036; 202-244-2990; email@example.com http://convention.adc.org/.
CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5 day Seminar at University of Havana, plus visits to a cooperative, urban garden, community development project, social research centers, and educational & medical institutions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.globaljusticecenter.org/.
NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
Contact: 164 Robles Way, #276, Vallejo, CA 94591; email@example.com; http://www.netrootsnation.org/.
MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
Contact: 4126 Third Street, Detroit, MI 48201; http://alliedmedia.org/.
GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process throughout the U.S.
SOCIALISM - The Socialism 2013 Conference is scheduled for June 27-30 in Chicago, featuring talks and panel discussions.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.socialismconference.org.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles under the heading, Intersections: Teaching and Learning Across Media.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from branches across the continent to learn new skills and build One Big Union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13th, the 11th Annual Peacestock: A Gathering for Peace, will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
Contact: Bill Habedank, 1913 Grandview Ave., Red Wing, MN 55066; 651-388-7733; email@example.com; http://www.peacestockvfp.org.
CHILDREN’S DEFENSE - July 15-19, join clergy, seminarians, Christian educators, young adult leaders and other faith-based advocates for children at CDF Haley Farm in Clinton, Tennessee, for five days of spiritual renewal, networking, movement building workshops, and continuing education about the urgent needs of children at the 19th annual Proctor Institute for Child Advocacy Ministry.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.childrensdefense.org.
ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference in the world.
Contact: email@example.com; http://yeacamp.org/.
LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations and panel discussions.
Contact: NCLR Headquarters Office, Raul Yzaguirre Building, 1126 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036; 202-785-1670; www.nclr.org.
LABOR - The Eastern Conference For Workplace Democracy: Growing Our Cooperatives, Growing Our Communities, will be held at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA, July 26-28.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://east.usworker.coop/.
WOMEN/LYNNE STEWART- Radical Women is asking for support letters and cards to be sent to Lynne Stewart. Stewart is a civil rights attorney and political prisoner who is currently in jail. She has breast cancer and authorities have denied her request for transfer from her Texas prison to the New York City hospital where she received medical attention during a prior bout of breast cancer. Send messages and cards to: Lynne Stewart 53504-054, Federal Medical Center Carswell, P.O. Box 27137, Fort Worth, TX 76127.
Contact: 747 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109; 415-864-1278; RadicalWomenUS@gmail.com; http://lynnestewart.org/; http://www.radicalwomen.org/.
HAITI/WOMEN - Haiti’s government is considering a legal reform measure that would prohibit and punish all sexual assault, including marital rape. MADRE and the International Campaign to Stop Rape & Gender Violence in Conflict are launching a petition to raise international support for this push to address violence against women in Haiti.
Contact: 121 West 27th Street, #301, New York, NY 10001; 212-627-0444; email@example.com; http://www.madre.org.
SYRIA/MIDDLE EAST - The Middle East Children’s Alliance (MECA) is currently seeking funds to assist more than 200,000 refugees fleeing violence in Syria.
FOLK FESTIVAL - The Falcon Ridge Folk Festival will be held August 2-4, in the Berkshires, NY.
Contact: http://www.falconridgefolk.com/; firstname.lastname@example.org.
WAR RESISTERS - The War Resisters League will hold its 90th anniversary conference, Revolutionary Nonviolence: Building Bridges Across Generations and Communities, August 1-4, at Georgetown University. The event will focus on the U.S.’ long history of antimilitarism.
Contact: 339 Lafayette Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-228-0450; email@example.com; http://www.warresisters.org.
POPULAR ECONOMICS - The Center for Popular Economics is holding its 2013 Summer Institute August 4-9 at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. No background in economics is needed for this intensive training. This year’s theme is, The Care Economy: Building a Just Economy with a Heart.
Contact: Center for Popular Economics, PO Box 785 Amherst, MA 01004; 413-545-0743; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.populareconomics.org.
VETERANS - Veterans for Peace is holding the 28th annual convention August 6-11 in Madison, WI. This year’s theme is, Power To The Peaceful.
DEMOCRACY - The Democracy Convention will take place August 7-11 in Madison, WI. The convention brings together nine conferences including topics such as media, education, defense, race, environment and others.
MEN - The 38th National Conference on Men & Masculinity: Forging Justice: Creating Safe, Equal and Accountable Communities, presented in partnership with HAVEN, will be held in Detroit, MI, August 8-10.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.nomas.org/.
OCCUPY - An Occupy National Gathering will be held in Kalamazoo, MI, August 21-25.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://occupynationalgathering.net/.
COMMUNITIES - The Communities Conference is a networking and learning opportunity for co-operative or communal lifestyles, with workshops, events and entertainment; scheduled for August 30-September 2 at the Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, Virginia.
LABOR DAY - The 29th annual Bread and Roses Festival, a celebration of the ethnic diversity and labor history of Lawrence, MA, will be held September 2, in honor of the 1912 Bread and Roses Strike. There will be music, dance, poetry, drama, ethnic food, historical demonstrations, walking & trolley tours.
Contact: PO Box 1137, Lawrence, MA 01842; 978-794-1655; http://www.breadandrosesheritage.org/.
OCCUPY WALL STREET - September 17 is the two-year anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Events are planned in New York City and worldwide.
TEACHERS - The 13th Annual Conference, “Teaching for Social Justice: The Politics of Pedagogy,” will be held October 12 in San Francisco, CA. The free event features workshops, resources, and free childcare.
Contact: 415-676-7844; email@example.com; http://www.t4sj.org/.
HAITI - International Action, which brings clean water and chlorinators to Haiti, seeks office space capable of housing up to six people and their office equipment.
Contact: Zach Bremer, Zbrehmer@haitiwater.org; 202-488-0735; http://www.haitiwater.org/.
MEDIA - The Union for Democratic Communications and Project Censored are sponsoring a joint conference on media democracy, media activism and social justice to be held November 1-3 at the University of San Francisco. Proposals for presentations, workshops and panels from activists and critical scholars are invited.