President Bush’s plan to provide government funding to religious-based social services is under attack from conservatives and liberals alike, and two religious groups recently published a guide to churches warning them about the “faith-based” plan. The Interfaith Alliance Foundation and the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs released the guide, arguing, “Religion thrives in America because É it remains largely free from governmental regulation.” The groups are concerned not only about religious issues but constitutional ones as well, and recommends that religious groups create “sister” secular groups that receive the government funds, a stealth strategy that would allow religion to continue to be connected to the provision of much-needed social services.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (AU), the leading national opponent of the faith-based plan, argues that continued opposition may force Bush to abandon the initiative. In fact, the Bush administration announced this week that it will delay action on the plan until the opposition is resolved. AU executive director Rev. Barry Lynn notes that leaders in the religious right, including Pat Robertson, are opposed to the measure because “people will be forced to pay taxes for religious groups they don’t agree with or may even dislike, and government will be entangled with religion in the process.”