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Press ReleaseReligious Freedom/Church-State
ADL Says Position Paper On Faith-Based Initiatives Does Not Adequately Address Concerns

New York, NY, February 27, 2001 Ö The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said a position paper on government funding of faith-based social services, issued today by the American Jewish Committee and the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History at Temple University, is "premature" and "does not adequately address concerns" about the channeling of government funds to religious organizations.

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, said the document, In Good Faith: A Dialogue on Government Funding of Faith-Based Social Services, "does not totally reject the channeling of government funds to pervasively sectarian organizations.

"The Anti-Defamation League, a proponent of church-state separation, continues to hold strong reservations with the Bush administrationís faith-based initiatives and, therefore, decided not to sign on to this document, which we believe does not adequately address those concerns," Mr. Foxman said. "While we appreciate the significant effort to reach agreement on the issue of faith-based social services, we are concerned that this document does not totally reject the channeling of government funds to pervasively sectarian organizations to advance their religious mission. That would clearly be inappropriate as a matter of both law and public policy."

"This document does not completely reject the potential for discriminatory employment practices by the would-be recipients of funding. There is no discussion on the role of religious iconography, art and literature in determining whether an organization is pervasively sectarian. This document does not insist on separate incorporation by religiously affiliated entities that provide social services, one measure that could create a firewall to guard against church-state entanglement.

"Finally there is a risk that in opening government coffers to religious entities, the government could end up in a situation where it would be directing funds to terrorist, hate-mongering or extremist groups. The document does not discuss or endorse appropriate safeguards in this respect."

As the administration moves forward with its plan to expand the governmentís partnership with faith-based organizations, ADL will be working to ensure that federally funded faith-based initiatives maintain necessary constitutional safeguards in the delivery of these essential social welfare services.

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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