Statement by the Freedom From Religion Foundation

Faith-based Assault on Constitution

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's freudian slip yesterday on the Charlie Rose Show added insult to the injuries inflicted on the First Amendment earlier in the day by the Administration.

Talking about the Administration's vision for the Iraqi government, Powell said he expected it to be an Islamic country by faith, just as we are a Judeo-Christian . . ."

Realizing his gaffe, Powell quickly added: "Well, it's hard to tell any more, but we are a country of many faiths now."

And we are a country where many have no religious faith, Mr. Powell.

That lesson hasn't been learned by the Administration. Yesterday the White House announced new schemes to use money garnered by taxing the religious and unreligious alike to promote religion and religion-based social services:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services is awarding $30.5 million in public grants to "provide technical assistance and sub-grants to church-related and community groups." This follows $24 million in grants from the "Compassion Capital Fund" last year to help 21 small charities, including church groups.
  • Four government regulations were completed to provide federal money to religious programs run by "neighborhood healers."
  • Labor Secretary Elaine Chao adopted two changes, one to let "training vouchers" be used by people pursuing "faith-based careers." The second will help religious institutions "compete" for federal contracts.
  • Mel Martinez, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, will let "faith-based groups" compete for $8 million in housing grants. HUD also finalized regulations granting religious groups access to nearly $20 million in social services grants under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program, and the Community Services Block Grant program.
  • Six new regulations are in the works at the Justice, Education, Labor and Veterans Affairs departments.
  • Bush met with Cabinet members at the White House yesterday to discuss eliminating "barriers" that have kept religious groups from obtaining federal money.

When the Administration speaks of dismantling "barriers" against funding religious groups, it is really talking about dismantling the wall of separation between church and state. As the popular bumpersticker says: if you're not outraged by what's going on, you're not paying attention.

Also see:

Powell Calls U.S. "Judeo-Christian" (Reuters, 9/23/03)
www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A50169-2003Sep23.html

U.S. Allowing Funds to Religious Groups (AP, 9/22/03) news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story2&cid=544&u=/ap/bush_religious_groups&printer=1

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