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The Perils of Faith-Based Programs
Letter to the Editor
Published February 6, 2001 in the Wall Street Journal

When discussing President Bush’s plans for the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, Stephen Goldsmith assures us that "the separation of church and state dictates that public money should never fund proselytizing." ("What Faith-Based Programs Can Do and Can't Do," editorial page, Jan 30). To do this, he uses the example of the Salvation Army: It should, he suggests, be permitted to use government money to subsidize a food program, so long as it "provides Bibles and conducts prayer sessions with its own money."

Mr. Goldsmith’s very example shows that government grants to institutions like the Salvation Army entail significant risk. After all, money is fungible – how can the government verify that taxpayer funds are not being used inappropriately for religious purposes? Should we subject the Salvation Army – or perhaps a church – to IRS audits? And even if a minister is being paid for with private funds, should the Salvation Army be permitted to proselytize before, during and after it provides government-funded social services?

Glen A. Tobias
National Chairman

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director

Anti-Defamation League

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