ACLU of Florida Condemns President Bush's Executive Order on Faith-Based Initiatives

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
December 12, 2002 12:00 am

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MIAMI — Saying President Bush’s Executive Order directing federal agencies to make tax dollars available to religious organizations is unnecessary and dangerous, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today voiced its strong opposition to the President’s plan.

“It is essentially government-funded religion and a formula for discrimination in employment and services,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “For years, our government has been dependent upon religiously affiliated organizations to provide social services throughout the United States, so why change a current system that works so well?”

Rather than wait for Congress to approve legislation that has been stalled in the Senate, President Bush issued a sweeping executive order today directing federal agencies to let religious charities compete for social service grants. His plan removes federal guidelines for professional services performed by religious organizations. As a result, religious groups would be able to decide who gets priority for services and what services are actually provided.

Previously, religious organizations receiving federal funds were required by law to establish separate accounting agencies and abide by civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination. In addition, Bush’s plan would allow religious organization to discriminate in their hiring practices based on religious beliefs and teachings about race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and pregnancy status.

“Organizations such as Catholic Charities or Lutheran Social Services have successfully operated under current contractual requirements that prohibit religious proselytizing and discrimination against people who don’t share their same faith,” said Simon. “Without these standards in place, we’re basically saying it’s okay for government to fund religious practices.”

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