Groups across spectrum agree on faith-based initiative
Bush's faith-based initiative is "back on track" after opposing organizations came together and issued a report with 29 recommendations, reports The Boston Globe. Under the leadership of former Senator Harris Wofford, the group was about as diverse as possible, representing everyone from the Southern Baptist Convention's Richard Land and Evangelicals for Social Action president Ron Sider to the ACLU and People for the American Way.
Since many of these groups have fought on opposing sides of the faith-based initiative debate over the last year, Wofford didn't think the group would be able to agree on much. But it did, recommending that people who don't itemize on their tax returns should be allowed to deduct charitable contributions, that government agencies shouldn't discriminate against religious organizations in funding, that Congress make it easier (and free) to form a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and other such issues.
What you won't find in the recommendations is anything on providing aid to groups for which religion permeates everything they do, like Teen Challenge (which was also represented in the group). The recommendations do touch on hiring practices, saying that privately funded organizations should be allowed "to use religious preferences in employment," and that rules applying to government-funded programs in an organization shouldn't apply to the organization as a whole (in other words, a church might have to hire a homosexual to work in its soup kitchen, but wouldn't have to hire one as pastor). The group also says, "no racially discriminatory employment policy should be permitted, even if that policy is ostensibly based on religious beliefs." However, ...1