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The value of choice the dilemma of charitable choice and the further funding of faith-based initiatives.

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Georgetown Public Policy Institute The Value of choice the dilemma of Charitable Choice and the further funding of faith-based initiatives -- Ethics June 30, 2003 CONTENTS Executive Summary 4 I. The Issue 5 II. Values Involved 7 III. Analytical Frames 8 IV. Alternative Solutions 20 V. Summary and Conclusion.....................................21 BIBLIOGRAPHY 24 Appendices I. Charitable Choice Legislation (House Resolution 7) Executive Summary In the aftermath of September 11th, and with the continuing financial burden of the war against terrorism and Iraq, it is imperative that we maximize the utilization of every tax dollar. We, as citizens, must insist that services be provided in the most efficient and quality-saving method. Given the level and depth of social services entitled today's population and the fact that tens of millions may be currently served by them, faith-based charities could be an important and valuable resource for the provision of services, and warrant the support of the federal government. However, we must not do so at the expense of the integrity of the relationship of church and state or the soundness of the faith-based organizations themselves. Perhaps the most contentious point in this debate is the question, "Whose faith?" There is great fear among advocates of a strong separation of church and state that particular faiths will be favored, intentionally and unintentionally. Conversely, there are some who fear this initiative will allow government funds to subsidize services provided by faith-based groups whose philosophies and practices they believe to be dangerous. Both points raise an important question of values. Through the use of existing statistical data, the research of philosophical and modern text, the analysis of policy briefs and position papers, and first hand experience working with and within government funded faith-based organizations; this paper analyzes the policy decisions regarding faith-based funding and the ethics behind this proposal. In particular, I utilized several frames of reference to study this issue; philosophy, law, economics, religion, culture, demography, corruption, politics, science and technology, and organization and management. ...read more.


3. It safeguards the religious freedom of beneficiaries, both those who are willing to receive services from religious organizations and those who object to receiving services from such organizations.12 Beyond the scope of these goals and the form of the legislation, we must also look at the origins and history that will regulate this proposal, which leads us to the Constitution and the separation of church and state. Interestingly enough, the phrase "separation of church and state" is nowhere to be found in the Constitution or its amendments. This phrase was first seen in a letter written by then President Thomas Jefferson in response to a congratulatory note from a Baptist group. Jefferson's letter, dated January 1, 1802, contained this sentence: "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach action only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and State."13 In the 1947 case of Everson v. Board of Education, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black paraphrased this letter in a summation of the purpose of the Establishment Clause: "In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment was intended to erect a 'wall of separation' between church and State." "That wall," he added, "must be kept high and impregnable."14 The case signaled the Supreme Court's belief that the opening words of the First Amendment ("Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .") requires nothing less than the separation of church and state. Indeed, most of the Supreme Court's church-state decisions in the last fifty years, with occasional exceptions, have been grounded in a fundamental commitment to the Everson standard and the "wall of separation" approach. ...read more.


If the legislation itself is appropriate, then we must now look at the dangers involved in implementation. The most dangerous threat to these organizations, and the success of the Faith Based Initiative, is the threat of dependency. Throughout the years, society has witnessed the development and funding of organizations by the government, only to see the demise of these once strong organizations as federal funding disappears. Faith-based organizations, who initially welcome funding as an added resource to their mission, may soon realize not only their own dependency, but also that of their community, upon this funding. As funding dwindles and pressure comes to bear, how will these organizations separate themselves from the politics and issues of their funding? Can they continue to be "prophetic critics of government?"20 Ironically, given that the focus of many faith-based organizations is the reduction in dependency upon welfare, government funding may quickly become the very thing that faith-based organizations themselves depend on. Regarding this and other issues, I must concur with John Locke. Any decisions made by faith-based groups to apply and receive funding, is their choice and their responsibility. If they believe this opportunity is the best way to achieve their goal and utility, then they should participate. If they realize overwhelming danger to their mission and identity then they should abstain. The key issue here is choice, which relates back to the founding principals of Charitable Choice and the Faith-Based Initiative - to allow faith-based organizations the right to compete and choose without discrimination because of their beliefs. Then Sen. Ashcroft surmises this effort here: One of my goals in proposing the charitable choice provision was to encourage faith-based organizations to expand their involvement in the welfare reform effort by providing assurances that their religious integrity would be protected. The charitable choice provision embodies U.S. Supreme Court case precedents to clarify what is constitutionally permissible when states and local governments cooperate with the religious and charitable sector of society. The provision protects the rights of faith-based providers as well as the religious liberty of the individuals they may serve. ...read more.

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