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The Devil in the Details of “Charitable Choice”

 
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Lilli
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2004 4:33 pm    Post subject: The Devil in the Details of “Charitable Choice” Reply with quote

The Devil in the Details of “Charitable Choice”
Harming Religion and Sanctioning Government-Funded Discrimination

"Charitable Choice" is a proposal pushed by the Bush adminstration that would funnel money to pervasively religious organizations, and would specifically allow those groups to discriminate in employment for grant-funded positions.

History: Successful Partnerships Have Existed for Decades Without “Charitable Choice”

Religiously-affiliated institutions, such as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Services, United Jewish Communities and numerous smaller religious nonprofits perform government-funded social services – and have for decades -- but have not discriminated in staffing, have not forced people into worship or proselytize, follow all civil rights laws and follow all state and local rules and licensing standards. Houses of worship and other pervasively religious institutions operating with private funds are exempt from many of these standards, and therefore have simply set up separate nonprofit organizations, which do not discriminate, follow civil rights laws and have a social service rather than sectarian mission, to deliver government-funded services.

Charitable Choice: License to Discriminate

While churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship are permitted – with their own private funds -- to limit their hiring to people of their religion or religious beliefs under the religious exemption to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, religious institutions have not engaged in discrimination when using taxpayer funds to administer government services. However, President Bush's "Charitable Choice" proposal seeks to change that.

The underlying premise of Charitable Choice is that religious institutions – such as churches themselves – that utilize the Title VII exemption from the prohibition on religious employment discrimination, should be able to both receive government funding and discriminate.

Taxpayer dollars should not be used to discriminate against someone because of their religion or religious beliefs. It is both unconstitutional and morally wrong.

Overriding Licensing and Safety Requirements

In several bills, Charitable Choice provisions were written to explicitly override state licensing rules, specifically in the area of substance abuse treatment. There were numerous attempts to force states to exempt religious providers from any state licensing or qualifications standards. This is a trend that will only expand as Charitable Choice creeps into more authorizations bills, particularly in the areas of education and health.

Government-Funded Religion?

Charitable Choice presents the serious risk of undermining the independence and autonomy of our nation’s churches, synagogues and other houses of worship. With government dollars come government oversight, audits and accountability measures for taxpayer funds. Will our nation’s churches simply become an arm of the state?

Putting the Personal Religious Freedom of Beneficiaries At Risk

Under Charitable Choice, will a Muslim or Jew seeking services be pressured to study the New Testament to receive services? Will a Baptist be pushed to read the Talmud?

Any supposed “safeguards” will be totally unworkable – how will it be enforced? Will a new federal “Church Police” be created to monitor these programs?

Undermining the Role of Church in Society

Many scholars have expressed serious concern that Charitable Choice will undermine the traditional role of religion as a prophetic critic of government. Charitable Choice will make some churches dependent on tax dollars, and like every other government-subsidized group, religion will be less likely to bite the hand that feeds it. Will churches want their books subject to audit after audit by the government?

Overriding State and Local Civil Rights Laws and Imposing an Unfunded Mandate

So-called "Charitable Choice" explicitly overrides state and local civil rights laws, which, in many states, cities and counties, are more protective than federal law. For example, several state and local laws protect people from discrimination based on sexual orientation, marital status, political affiliation, ancestry, etc. While an alleged agreement by the Bush Administration to promulgate regulations overriding state and local civil rights laws received much press attention, "Charitable Choice" would authorize this very same override under federal law. In addition, while "Charitable Choice" initiatives requires state and local government to find an alternative provider for beneficiaries that object to a religious program, it does not authorize any additional funds to pay for these alternatives.

Authorizing New Lawsuits Against State and Local Government

Charitable Choice" would allow new lawsuits against city, county and State governments and their officials by religious organizations who believe that they were denied funding opportunities because of their “religious character.” However, even the Justice Department now states that the government may not fund programs that contain religious activity or worship. Thus, this puts local government officials in a legal Catch-22. On one hand they are advised that certain funding would be unconstitutional, but then "Charitable Choice" authorizes a lawsuit against a city, county or State government if funding is refused.

Should the Government Choose Among Competing Churches?

Charitable Choice puts the government in the Constitutionally and morally suspect position of choosing amongst faiths to decide which is “best.” Some religious leaders and groups have already jumped into the fray by declaring that the government should not fund certain faiths. For example, influential evangelist Pat Robertson has declared his opposition to the funding of the Unification Church, Hare Krishna and the Church of Scientology.

On CBS’s Face the Nation, one of the President’s lead advisor on this issue, Steven Goldsmith was asked whether the government would fund controversial religions such as the Nation of Islam. Goldsmith replied that they would not fund churches that "preach hate" – to which Host Bob Schieffer asked: “Who decides if they're preaching hate or if they're preaching love?” Goldsmith had no answer.

© 2002 Coalition Against Religious Discrimination.
http://www.stopreligiousdiscrimination.org/what_is_charitable_choice.html
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Rev. Chazman
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Location: Illinois - USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2004 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, thats something.

Peace
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