Thursday, March 09, 2006

Keeping the Faith

The President is touting the success of his efforts to channel more federal dollars into religious charities.

In the budget year that ended Sept. 30, religious charities received $2.15 billion in federal grants to administer a range of social service programs for the needy. That represented 10.9 percent of the total grants from the seven federal agencies such charities were eligible to apply to in fiscal 2005, according to a White House report.

"It used to be that groups were prohibited from receiving any federal funding whatsoever because they had a cross or a star or a crescent on the wall," Bush said. "And that's changed, for the better.

"It's changed for the better for those who hurt in our society," he said. "So now when the government's making social service grants, money is awarded to groups that get the best results regardless of whether they're a faith based program. That's all people want. They want to access to grant money on an equal basis, on a competitive basis, so there's no discrimination one way or the other."
No discrimination one way or the other, unless, of course, you consider the potential for religious institutions receiving federal money to hire and fire based on religion. I allow that there are several differences here, but the conspicuous absence of rules governing the conduct of religious charities receiving federal funds seems especially glaring in light of the Supreme Court’s recent defense of the Solomon Act.