The Interfaith Alliance affirms the critical role of faith as a source of healing in our society and whether commanded by sacred text or inspired by the words of spiritual leaders, our faith communities have a long history of providing services to those who are in need. It is specifically because of our commitment to sustaining such services that we have grave concerns about current efforts to undermine the appropriate relationship between government and houses of worship.
Proposals to funnel government dollars directly into houses of worship and religious organizations, namely President Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, endanger both the sanctity of religion and the integrity of government. By accepting government funds, houses of worship would be subject to government oversight, as well as invasive government regulation, including compliance reviews, audits, and perhaps even the subordination of religious principle to government policies and objectives. Such practices would inevitably undermine the independence and integrity of religious organizations. We oppose any policy that would entangle religion and government in this unprecedented and perilous way.
For decades, houses of worship have set up separately incorporated institutions to fulfill their prophetic missions. These relationships have prospered due to safeguards in current law that ensures the rights of service providers and the well-being of beneficiaries. Altering the process by which faith-based service providers currently operate will jeopardize the unique and carefully balanced relationship between government and faith-based providers. These changes will create problems –not solve them.
Faith-based organizations and the government have long been partners in efforts to provide services to those in need. If faith communities and government are to continue to partner, we must preserve the appropriate relationship that has existed for decades.