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Press ReleaseReligious Freedom/Church-State
ADL Outlines Safeguards and Firewalls for President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative

New York, NY, January 29, 2001…In response to President George W. Bush’s initiative to expand government funding to faith-based organizations, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today urged the President to "maintain essential constitutional safeguards for protecting both religious organizations and beneficiaries" and to prevent "entanglements between government and religion."

In their letter to the President, Glen A, Tobias, ADL National Chairman, and Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said, "We strongly believe that every component of your initiative must maintain essential constitutional safeguards for protecting both religious organizations and beneficiaries."

The ADL leaders cited the success of government-funded partnerships with religiously-affiliated organizations, such as Catholic Charities, Jewish Community Federations and Lutheran Social Services, as having provided excellent service to communities because "safeguards have protected beneficiaries from unwanted and unconstitutional proselytizing" and "protected the integrity and sanctity of America’s religious institutions." Mr. Tobias and Mr. Foxman also stressed the need to "ensure that extremist, terrorist and hatemongering groups are not able to receive government money."

Among the other safeguards outlined by ADL are:

  • Ensure that taxpayer money does not fund religious discrimination in the hiring and firing of people who will deliver the services,

  • Ensure that secular alternatives to religiously provided services are readily available, and that those who prefer secular alternatives are made aware of them and have realistic and convenient access to them,

  • Ensure the development of proper firewalls between government-funded services and the core religious activities of a religious organization, so that taxpayer dollars are not channeled into other religious activities of sectarian organizations (as a practical matter, this can best be implemented through religious organizations’ establishment of a separate corporate structure which would distinguish a sectarian religious entity from its government-funded social welfare organization).
Read the full text of the letter to President Bush

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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