Tell the President to Keep His Word to End Religious Discrimination in Faith-Based Initiatives
On July 1, 2008, then-Senator Obama promised the American people that his version of President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiatives program would end proselytizing and religious discrimination for organizations that receive federal tax dollars. He promised to abide by "a few basic principles" that would protect the constitutional separation of church and state in his plan for an expanded Faith-Based Initiative program:
First, if you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can't discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs.
Now, almost exactly two years to the day, nothing has changed from the Bush era. Instead, discrimination cases are decided on a “case by case basis,” with no guiding principle or binding executive rule. The Secular Coalition for America has consistently challenged the status quo of the Faith Based Initiatives program. Government reports and hearings have documented the constitutional problems and gross abuses rampant in this program, but the status quo remains.
The good news is that President Obama can keep his word with the stroke of a pen. There is no congressional action needed to implement these crucial reforms; it simply requires an Executive Order issued by the president.
After watching the video above, tell the president that you want him to keep his promise, and that religious discrimination must never be subsidized by your tax dollars. Then be sure to share this action alert with your online contacts with the button below so your friends can have their voices heard as well.
Below is the text that the Secular Coalition sent to President Obama:
Dear President Obama,
I was encouraged by your July 1, 2008 promise to end proselytizing and religious discrimination in federally funded social service programs. However, it has been two years since you made this promise, and is has not yet been fulfilled.
It is discouraging to know that my tax dollars are going directly to houses of worship where there is little oversight to ensure that these funds will not be used for sectarian activities, particularly now, given our country’s economic problems.
Moreover, I am disappointed that you have not done more to ensure that faith-based program recipients are not subject to government-funded proselytizing or religious activities or to guarantee that secular alternatives to social services provided by houses of worship and other religious institutions are readily available.
For the millions of Secular Americans like myself who are frustrated by stories of government-condoned religious discrimination, I ask you to keep true to your pledge and restore the constitutionally-required safeguards governing partnerships between government and religiously-affiliated institutions that existed for most of American history.
Secular Coalition for America