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ADL Takes Issue With Religious Safeguard Rules in New Federal Faith-Based Initiative

New York, N.Y., February 20, 2003 … Taking issue with the failure of proposed federal rules to maintain essential safeguards for protecting both religious organizations and beneficiaries, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today announced it had formally submitted comments to three different federal agencies contemplating new regulations to implement aspects of President Bush's faith-based initiative.

"All three sets of comments acknowledge the vital role religious institutions have played in addressing many of our nation's most pressing social needs," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Each draws a sharp distinction between existing relationships between government-funded social service organizations and potential new recipients of government dollars who, under the proposed new rules, would not be required to maintain existing church-state and civil rights safeguards."

Following are some examples of the problems ADL has identified with the proposed regulations:

  • By equating religious and non-religious providers and seeking to treat them as equals, the new rules fail to recognize the unique place that religion has in our society and in our constitutional scheme.

  • They do not require clear separation in time and location between government-funded social welfare activities and an organization's religious activities

  • Benefits could be provided in an environment with a pervasively sectarian atmosphere, including religious icons and sacred texts.

  • Recipients of government funds to provide social services could discriminate in who they employ to deliver government-funded benefits.

  • Auditing provisions invite the government to conduct onerous and searching inquiries into the books of religious institutions

  • The new rules fail to take any steps to prevent government money from flowing to anti-Semitic, racist and bigoted organizations.

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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