Action Alert: Tell Obama to Reform the Faith Based Initiative Program
Twelve Months, Two Words.
On July 1, 2008 Barack Obama promised to abide by "a few basic principles" that would protect the constitutional separation of church and state in his plan for an expanded faith based initiative program. He was specific: "First, if you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs."
On February 5, 2009 President Obama issued his Executive Order establishing his Faith Based Intiative program. Twelve months later at the National Prayer Breakfast, President Obama claimed that his administration had "turned the faith-based initiative around" from its misuse during the Bush administration. But it appears the only thing President Obama has changed about how millions of federal dollars are spent is that the office guiding the direct funding of houses of worship is now called the "White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships" rather than the "Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives." Twelve months, Two words. That's not a turn around, it's a re-branding.
Take Action Now: Tell President Obama to honor his commitment to reforming the Faith Based Initiative Program
The Secular Coalition for America has called for reform and oversight of the Office and the agencies that it oversees for years. Government reports and hearings have documented the constitutional problems and gross abuses rampant in this program, but a year later all Americans continue to have their federal dollars used for government-condoned religious discrimination, while reforms to prohibit proselytizing in these purportedly secular social service programs have still not been enacted.
The President can keep his commitment with the stroke of a pen. Congress does not need to pass a law to make these changes a reality, it simply requires an Executive Order issued by the President.
America’s Founding Fathers strongly believed in a clear separation between church and state. They gave us a Constitution that forbids government to support or oppose any religion, leaving Americans free to follow their own consciences when it comes to matters of faith. In the words of the First Amendment, government shall make “no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”
Churches and other houses of worship are free to spread their beliefs. But they are expected to raise their own funds through the voluntary contributions of the faithful. Taxation to support religion and religious endeavors was forbidden under the Founders’ constitutional framework. No American should be compelled through taxation to subsidize any religion. Twelve months, Two words.
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