Billions of government dollars no longer off-limits to faith-based organizations
The White House yesterday announced regulatory changes that will make it easier for religious organizations to compete for federal funds. In addition, it proposed six other rules to "level the playing field" in funding social services.

Faith-based organizations working to combat drug abuse, mental illness, and poverty can now apply for several grants from the Department of Health and Human Services. Previously, about $20 billion in these grants was off-limits to religious organizations.

Similarly, the Department of Housing and Urban Development will allow faith-based groups to compete for $8 billion.

"Under the old regulations, when Orange County Rescue Mission in Los Angeles applied for HUD funding, they were told that they needed to form a secular nonprofit, ban all religious activity from their facility, and call their chapel an 'auditorium,'" says a White House press release. "After the regulations are finalized, groups like Orange County Rescue Mission will be able to apply for HUD funds while maintaining their religious identity. They will be able to expand their work in providing housing and supportive services to the homeless and make increased homeownership a reality."

Proposed regulations from the departments Justice and Education will, according to the White House press release, "ensure that no organization or beneficiary will be discriminated against in a federally funded social service program on the basis of religion." Under the change, religious groups will now face the same rules as secular groups when it comes to receiving forfeited assets, including real estate.

The most significant announcement, at least in terms of the political ...

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