We like President Bush's plans to enlist churches and faith-based organizations in combating social ills like poverty, addiction, unemployment, and illiteracy. It is apparently necessary to start our editorial by stating that clearly and prominently. Otherwise people will say we oppose it.

Pat Robertson went on CNN to say he thought Bush's plan was "an excellent idea," adding, "but if somebody said, well, you can't ever tell them about Jesus, we'd say no way, we won't take your money." The press was soon abuzz over Robertson's "opposition" to the plan. Likewise, Bush adviser Marvin Olasky and the Hudson Institute's Michael Horowitz issued a statement that was characterized as warning "that government grants could sap the vitality of religious social programs." Their statement more prominently said, "We support President Bush's agenda for action, and also take this opportunity to insist that any federal program to support faith-based institutions must vigilantly preserve the independence of America's religious institutions."

Likewise, Catholic Charities USA (which has received federal funding for years) was lumped in with critics despite its statement that it "is enthusiastic about sponsoring and operating such services."

Even those religious groups that actually have voiced serious concerns have also voiced praise. "We're heartened that President Bush says he wants faith-based organizations to have a place at the table, but we hope that the government will not vacate its essential seat at that table," says a press release from Lutheran Services in America.

So we'll say it again: Bush's plan to remove bias against religious organizations in federal contracts for social services is great.

Encouraging Debate

That churches and religious ...

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