Last week, Weblog noted changes in H.R. 7, also known as the Charitable Choice Act of 2001 and the Faith-Based and Community Initiatives bill. "It seems to Weblog that in large measure, the heart has been ripped out of President Bush's faith-based initiative," Weblog wrote. But since then, several e-mails and phone calls have come in from people connected to the faith-based initiative saying the amendments to the bill were nothing earth-shattering. Weblog had worried about regulations requiring that any program receiving federal funds to distinguish its social services from its religious components, and to allow service recipients the opportunity to "opt out" of the religious components.
But as has been pointed out to Weblog, that plan was pretty much what John DiIulio, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, told the National Association of Evangelicals: programs that regard evangelism as their central mission and method of changing lives would not be eligible for direct grants. For the record, Weblog did note the similarities between the bill and DiIulio's speech. But with everymajornewsorganization saying there were major changes to the bill and World's Marvin Olasky decrying the changes, Weblog apparently got caught up in the hype. On a second look, there really aren't that many differences between the proposed House legislation and what DiIulio has been preaching for the last several months. Weblog is happy to eat a little crow and to remind readers of CT's recent editorial, which said, "We have confidence that the White House Office for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives will come up with a system that will neither co-opt nor excessively limit churches." We ...1