Implacable Foes Find (Some) Common Ground on Faith-Based Initiatives

Diverse working group's recommendations represent the minimum, not the maximum, that is politically possible.

It is not an everyday occurrence for Laura Murphy, Washington Director of the ACLU and Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptists' public policy arm or Barry Lynn, Director of Americans United and John Castellani, Director of Teen Challenge, International, to announce public agreement on anything, much less the urgent need to expand the capacity and funding of faith-based organizations (FBOs) to overcome poverty in America. When that happens it is an occasion for celebration.

On January 15, I participated in a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington to release an important new document, "Finding Common Ground," prepared by a national working group chaired by former Democratic Senator Harris Wofford.

Early in the summer of 2001, it became clear that the Democratic majority in the Senate would not accept the House's bill expanding Charitable Choice and implementing a variety of faith-based initiatives. So Republican Senator Santorum asked the Democrat he defeated to chair an exceedingly diverse group of national leaders to see if they could find some common ground on the whole faith-based initiatives. I was privileged to serve on this Working Group over the last six months along with leaders from groups as diverse as the ACLU, Teen Challenge, The National Council of Churches, the Southern Baptist Convention, Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA), People for the American Way, the NAACP, the American Muslim Council, Americans United, and Big Brothers/Big Sisters.

Both Republican Senator Santorum and Democratic Senator Lieberman have encouraged this project and indicated that they hope this spring to co-sponsor and pass legislation reflecting some of our key recommendations.

  • This bipartisan, consensus document calls for a number of things ESA has been promoting:

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June
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