New York, NY, July 3, 2008 … With each of the presidential candidates touting proposals to expand federal funding for religious social service agencies, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on Senators Barack Obama and John McCain to ensure proper safeguards are in place for these programs.
Both candidates have recently announced plans to expand faith-based initiatives, continuing a policy that was a centerpiece of the White House under President George W. Bush.
"Faith-based initiatives raise serious questions of both law and policy and have distorted the appropriate role of government in the provision of social services," said Glen S. Lewy, ADL National Chair and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Even with the most intense monitoring and supervision it is difficult, if not impossible, to ensure that these programs do not have a religious component or discriminate against those who do not share the religious views of the institutions that receive federal funding."
In letters to the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees, ADL urged the candidates to "proceed very carefully" in pursuing faith-based programs, which have led in the past to concerns about violations of the separation of church and state.
The League said the programs should have safeguards to ensure that:
- Government money does not fund religious discrimination in hiring and firing;
- Program beneficiaries are not subject to unwanted proselytizing or religious activities;
- Secular alternatives are available to services provided by houses of worship, and beneficiaries have reasonable access to them;
- Accounting systems and firewalls separate government dollars from funds that support religious activities;
- There is a clear separation in time and location between government funded-social welfare activities and an organization's religious activities.
A 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, ADL neither supports nor opposes any candidate for political office. The League is a longstanding advocate of separation of church and state.