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, the recommendations stop short of recommending that government-funded, faith-based organizations be forced on a national level to hire without regard to religious belief or practice.

Senators Rick Santorum (R-Penn.) and Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) say they'll "soon" introduce a bill legislation "that would mirror the group's recommendations," reports the Globe. Expect more analysis on the recommendations in the coming days.

When interfaith activities really go awry
A Texas witch (or Wiccan) is suing members of a Unitarian church she used to attend, saying they "harassed her to teach them Wiccan rituals," reports the Houston Chronicle. When she repeatedly refused, explaining Wiccans "do not train non-Wiccans in the performance of their rituals," she claims "they became increasingly insistent and increasingly hostile." They even went to her home and tried to sneak into Wiccan meetings. She wants $3 million in damages for emotional distress and aggravating a heart condition—charges mainly based on their allegedly calling her "a humpbacked, toothless, redneck hillbilly witch."

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