Government funds for "Faith Based" homeless programs - your

Tom Boland (
Sat, 29 May 1999 13:49:51 -0700 (PDT)

Do you approve of government funding for "homeless services" run by
relegious ("faith based") nonprofit organizations?  Why or why not?

See the related article below:
AP Headlines - Tuesday May 25, 1999


By SANDRA SOBIERAJ Associated Press Writer

ATLANTA (AP) - As part of a ``new partnership'' between church
and state, President Gore will ``dare to embrace'' faith-based
programs with public funds and set policy with religious leaders at
the table.

Such was the pledge Vice President Al Gore made Monday as he
further fleshed out an agenda for Campaign 2000 that he hopes will
both set him apart from President Clinton and bring him close
enough to his opponents - chiefly Republican George W. Bush and
Democrat Bill Bradley - to neutralize any ``values'' debate.

Today, he and Clinton appear together at an economic development
conference in Texas before Gore resumes campaign fund raising.
Three events Monday bagged him $600,000.

``The moment has come for Washington to catch up to the rest of
America,'' the congressman-turned-senator-turned-vice-president
said in tones borrowed from a Washington outsider.

``And Americans profoundly, rightly believe that politics and
morality are deeply interrelated.''

Speaking at a Salvation Army drug rehabilitation center, Gore
said places like that and Christ House and Christian Women's Job
Corps have some of the most effective programs dealing with
homelessness, addiction and mental illness precisely because of
their religious bent.

``To the workers in these organizations, that client is not a
number but a child of God,'' he said. ``We should explore carefully
tailored partnerships with our faith community, so we can use the
approaches that are working best.''

His plan essentially would expand conservative Republican Sen.
John Ashcroft's ``charitable choice'' provision of the 1996 welfare
overhaul that allowed government money to fund faith-based groups
helping to move people from welfare to work.

Gore was short on specifics - communications director Laura
Quinn called it a ``broad idea'' at this point - but he insisted no
government-funded program would ``promote a religious view or try
to force anyone to receive religion'' and that secular alternatives
would be available.

Three times he said he believes in the separation of church and

But Terri Schroeder, a First Amendment legal analyst at The
American Civil Liberties Union, said Gore's plan raises troubling

``How can a religious institution counsel without proselytizing?
How can you provide juvenile services without some level of
coercion? How can we have any accountability for how our money is
spent given the traditional separation of church and state?''
Schroeder asked.

For Gore, the political benefit of religious talk is twofold: It
sneaks some ground out from under Republicans who have long
dominated the morals debate; and, less overtly, may serve to
disassociate him from Clinton's personal scandals.

``It's taken too long for candidate Gore to join Republicans in
recognizing the rightful role of churches and religious
organizations in solving society's most challenging and pressing
problems,'' said Jim Nicholson, chairman of the Republican National
Committee. At the same time, he welcomed Gore's ``change of

A senior policy adviser to Gore, Elaine Kamarck, told The Boston
Globe over the weekend, ``The Democratic Party is going to take
back God this time.''

Aboard Air Force Two on Monday, vice presidential spokesman
Chris Lehane shook his head at Kamarck's candor. He refused to
speak to the politics of Gore's new emphasis on spirituality and
rejected the notion that Republicans have cornered the market on
religious voters.

``I don't think God is partisan,'' Lehane said.

Beyond current-day political expedience, Gore can lay claim to a
religious and spiritual grounding. As a young man returning from
Vietnam, he studied at Vanderbilt's divinity school. And in his
1991 book, ``Earth in the Balance,'' Gore wrote of his ``deeply
personal'' relationship with Christ.

Still, said Lehane, the vice president has never been someone to
``wear God on his sleeve'' and doesn't plan to now that he's
running for president.

On other questions of church and state, the vice president
opposes organized prayer in public schools during the school day,
and he opposes using public dollars to send children to parochial
schools, Lehane said.

On Monday, Gore offered a pledge to the clergy and community
activists gathered at The Salvation Army: ``If you elect me
president, the voices of faith-based organizations will be integral
to the policies set forth in my administration.''


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material
is distributed without charge or profit to those who have
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for non-profit research and educational purposes only.**

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