News Release

Faith-Based Initiative

As the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives releases a report this afternoon at the Brookings Institution, the following individuals are available for interviews:

REV. JAMES LAWSON
Pastor emeritus of the Holman United Methodist Church in Los Angeles and one of the architects of the civil rights movement, Lawson said today about the White House plan: “This is another attempt to undermine the notion that government should be responsible for justice and equality in the emancipation of its vulnerable. The religious and political right so limit the options that they become one-dimensional — and serious religious, academic and political questions are never raised. The original U.S. government was established largely to protect the slave states and to protect the wealthy. This current program is an attempt to reverse the gains that people have made in the last century. Among other things, this program is an attempt at allowing the government to define who the black leaders are. Some of the right-wing foundations have been doing this. Martin King referred to it as a strategy of racism for the establishment to find a Negro that they can put in a shirt and tie who they can make a spokesperson for the status quo. Bush has said he views this as a way of convincing the African-American churches on the issue of abortion. It is an attempt to have discrimination be allowed in the name of religious conscience. It is also a stealth campaign on school vouchers, which would include funding all-white academies in the South. If the administration can blur the public dollar line, they can curtail the gains made on the equality of women and further legalize racism and poverty in education.”

SAMANTHA SMOOT
Executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, Smoot said today: “President Bush is broadening his drive to deregulate faith-based social service providers. In his Executive Order establishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, he explicitly directed that office to ‘eliminate unnecessary legislative, regulatory and other bureaucratic barriers that impede effective faith-based and other community efforts to solve social problems.’… In the name of ‘leveling the playing field’ for faith-based programs in Texas, then-Governor Bush passed laws relaxing regulations over these programs, including fully exempting faith-based drug treatment centers and children’s homes from state licensing and oversight. In Texas, faith-based drug treatment centers must now simply register their religious status with the state to gain exemption from virtually all of the health and safety, accountability and quality-of-care guidelines required of their secular counterparts, including: all employee training and licensing requirements, medical treatment guidelines, abuse and neglect prevention training, client rights protections, and requirements for reporting abuse, neglect, emergencies and medication errors. Under then-Governor Bush’s legislation, religious childcare centers and children’s homes in Texas could be accredited by a private, religious entity in lieu of state licensing, thus escaping state inspections and oversight. In the end, these alternatively-accredited child care facilities had a rate of abuse and neglect claims that was 50 times higher than that of state-licensed facilities.”
More Information

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167