New York, NY, September 24, 2003 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed deep disappointment about the Bush Administration’s latest unilateral actions to implement its faith-based initiative without necessary constitutional and anti-discrimination safeguards.
“We regret that the administration, once again, has acted without congressional authority to facilitate the distribution of federal funds to houses of worship and other sectarian institutions,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “At this point in the debate over the faith-based initiative, the administration surely knows that Congress would never have approved these actions, which do not contain the necessary safeguards against proselytizing, the use of federal funds for religious purposes, or discrimination on the basis of religion.”
Several federal agencies have finalized proposed rules designed to facilitate federal contracting with religious institutions, while at the same time explicitly authorizing the agencies to discriminate in their hiring practices on the basis of religion. ADL submitted comments to the agencies at the time the regulations were proposed, urging the inclusion of appropriate safeguards to prevent the use of federal funds for proselytizing, religious instruction, and employment discrimination.
Included in the new rules are regulations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which permit taxpayer dollars to be channeled to religious entities for the construction of buildings. “Under this particular rule, for the first time ever, churches would be able to use taxpayer dollars to build their facilities,” Mr. Foxman said. “We are surprised that HUD did not adequately address this patently unconstitutional and deeply disturbing initiative in its final rule.”
“We strongly believe that the courts will not look kindly on White House actions to implement the faith-based initiative without Congressional involvement and approval,” Mr. Foxman added.