White House office on faith-based initatives: full speed ahead
The White House apparently really is moving full speed ahead with its plans to expand the role of faith-based organizations in federally funded social services. (This despite earlier comments from senior staffers that it was postponing.) "The administration has begun to set up offices inside five federal agencies—the departments of Justice, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and Education—to dismantle obstacles that have blocked faith-based organizations from receiving federal contracts in the past," reports the Los Angeles Times. And John DiIulio, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, says he'll be publishing a "guide to charitable choices" in the next few weeks even further detailing the office's plans. The guide, he promises, will answer critics both on the left and the right. "I've learned in Washington," he told the Religious Action Center of Reformed Judaism, "when someone appears to be learning and listening, people think they're equivocating and retreating." (World magazine notes that unlike his speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, DiIulio's message to the Reform Jewish leaders "offered no remarks questioning this audience's commitment to the poor." Ouch.)

But while the White House may want to move ahead at warp speed, the Senate might slow the program down. Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), one of the Senate's biggest supporters of Bush's plan and the lead sponsor in the Senate of implementing it, says he's splitting the legislative side of Bush's proposal in two. The first, which will be offered within days, will seek to implement the less controversial aspects of Bush's faith-based initiative, such as allowing taxpayers who don't itemize to claim deductions for charitable contributions, creating tax break for banks that use individual development accounts, and limiting the liability for companies that offer in-kind contributions. The heart of Bush's plans, however—expanding the kinds of social service grants that churches and religious organizations can compete for—will be postponed for "several months to a year," according to The Washington Post. "My sense is we're looking within the next year for them to work out the bugs," Santorum tells the paper. "The timing may be right then."

More news articles on Bush's faith based initative:

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Opinion on Bush's faith based initative:

  • Fund individuals | A way to save President Bush's faith-based initiative (Marvin Olasky, World)
  • You're clear to land | A great proposal for how to deal with all the air traffic delays in America these days: "faith-based air traffic control." (Thomas L. Friedman, The New York Times)
  • Faith-based politics | Obstacles to providing services can be overcome (Editorial, The Dallas Morning News)
  • A faith-based quagmire | Mr. Bush's goal, "to invigorate the spirit of involvement and citizenship" in America, is laudable. However, that goal is best achieved through secular nonprofit groups. (Editorial, The Hartford Courant)

Thomas Jefferson and Bush's faith-based initiative:

  • What Would Jefferson Do? | The man who invented the "wall of separation" attended church services on government property. (The Wall Street Journal)
  • Church and lawsuit | When it comes to government funding of church-run entities, President Thomas Jefferson took a few tentative steps more than 200 years ago. President Bush just made what he hopes will be many thousands more. (The Christian Science Monitor)

More politics and law:

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More stories:


Bones idenfied as those of Madalyn Murray O'Hair and relatives:

  • Bodies identified as those of atheist O'Hair and kin | The five-year hunt for the atheist leader Madalyn Murray O'Hair is over, a forensics expert said, confirming that bones dug up at a remote ranch in Texas were those of Ms. O'Hair and two of her family members. (The New York Times)
  • Remains of missing atheist identified | More than five years after Madalyn Murray O'Hair and two relatives mysteriously disappeared, forensics tests have confirmed that human remains found in January in a shallow grave are those of the missing trio. (Associated Press)

Pop culture:

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  • 'Greatest Story' comes to DVD | If Zeffirelli's TV miniseries "Jesus of Nazareth" is the ultimate Catholic film version of Christ's life, then "Greatest Story" represents the definitive Protestant rendition in its solemn restraint and academic fastidiousness. (Variety)


Racial and Religious Vilification Bill in Victoria, Australia:

  • Political correctness threatens to become law | There should be one law for everyone on vilification. Christians would be ill-advised to support legislation that could be used to prevent or inhibit Christian teaching, while leaving racists and the enemies of religion, who are artists or academics, exempt and free to vilify. (George Pell, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, The Age, Melbourne, Australia)
  • A slur or free speech? | What the racial and religious vilification bill is about (The Age)
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Christians and Jews:

  • Religious row blazes over Greek identity | Leader of Greece's Orthodox Church claims that Jews are behind bitter dispute over identity cards. (BBC)
  • Cardinal: 'Whatever we do is wrong' | Despite Catholic attempts to arrive at a new understanding of Jews and Judaism, there is often a sense that Jews disapprove of everything that the Church tries to do, says Cardinal Edward Cassidy, president of the Pontifical Council for Religious Relations with the Jews. (The Jerusalem Post)

Church life:

Life ethics:

Missions and ministry:

  • Cardinal turns heads at bar sermon | "You have to go where the people are," says Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop of Washington, D.C. (Associated Press)
  • Pastor takes pain's purpose to people | Bob Sorge can barely speak, but Christians are lined up to hear him (The Washington Times)
  • Man tried to leave McVeigh a Bible | "I just recently became a born-again Christian and thought as a nice, kind, human gesture that I would try and stop out at the prison and see if I could give him a Bible," says Georgia trucker (Associated Press)

Are disasters divine communication?:

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  • People find names and woes aired on well-meaning prayer sites | Stories are often exaggerated and obsolete (The Financial Express, Bombay, India)
  • Racy ads expose inconsistency in publishers' stance | The recent pledge by New York magazine's parent company, Primedia, which last week completed a merger with the Web site network About.com, to sell or block sites that contain explicit sexual content. If those sites are unacceptable, why is it acceptable, at a time of concern over the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted disease, to publish advertisements like this one in New York magazine last week: "Sue & friend: Midtown, expensive, and worth it." (The New York Times)



  • Indian Catholics gain new identity, independence | Pope John Paul II appointed Rev. Jacob Angadiath as bishop of the Syro-Malabar church in Chicago and around the U.S. (Chicago Tribune)
  • Chicago gets diocese for Eastern Rite | The Eparchy of St. Thomas of the Syro-Malabarians of Chicago is the first Syro-Malabar diocese outside India (Associated Press)
  • Lutherans split over Pope's role | Hans Christian Knuth, presiding bishop of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany, suggested that Protestants might recognize the pontiff as a universally accepted spokesman for all Christianity, but others balk at idea. (UPI)
  • Pope to beatify 233 Spanish martyrs (Associated Press)
  • A merciful moralist | Touted as the leading Italian contender for the papacy, the cardinal of Genoa is strict about doctrine. But he is known as a compassionate pastor in the field. (Los Angeles Times)
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Money and finance:

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