The U.S. Senate in April overwhelmingly approved a stripped-down version of President Bush's faith-based initiatives. Observers expect the bill to pass easily in the House with few changes.
The legislation is called the Charity Aid, Recovery, and Empowerment Act (CARE). It makes deductions easier for non-itemizing taxpayers, provides technical assistance grants to small charities, and money to state and local faith-based initiatives. CARE also provides money for group homes for young mothers and other social service agencies.
But lawmakers removed provisions that would have allowed faith-based groups to consider religious and moral criteria in hiring. They also dropped language that allowed organizations to use religious icons throughout their facilities or literature.
Jim Towey, director of Bush's Office of Faith-based Initiatives, says the President is not content. Towey told evangelicals gathered at the White House, "Bush is pushing ahead so that we can have a cross on the wall and can have voluntary prayer."
Administration officials told Christianity Today of a three-pronged strategy. The first step is to establish offices that improve faith-based organizations' access to the federal bureaucracy. In December the President announced an executive order creating such offices in two departments. Second is to provide more money for research and conferences promoting faith-based social services. Third is to use executive orders to remove restrictions.
Officials seek to foster support of faith-based initiatives throughout the government. One White House aide said, "It is a revolutionary march through the institutions."
But presidential orders prohibiting bureaucratic discrimination against faith-based social service providers cannot ...1
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