The Freedom From Religion Foundation is celebrating the passage of a measure in Congress that aims to curtail the abuse of taxpayer money.
FFRF has long opposed the federal government’s faith-based initiative and has even taken the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. Taxpayers should never be forced to fund religious organizations, the state/church watchdog has consistently maintained. Under a rule called “charitable choice” in 1996, however, Congress has not only allowed faith-based organizations to receive taxpayer funds for providing social services, but has also exempted them from certain requirements that applied to secular nonprofits, such as nondiscrimination provisions. So, under “charitable choice,” churches can discriminate in their hiring while providing services — and the government pays them to do so.
FFRF is pleased to announce that the House of Representatives has finally taken the first step to remove this disastrous rule. In a just-approved bill reauthorizing funding for community block grants that fund social services, the House has removed the “charitable choice” language.
“This is a solid step in the right direction,” comments FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Faith-based organizations should not be receiving taxpayer funds anyway, but at least under this bill they’ll have to play by the same rules as secular nonprofits.”
FFRF urges the U.S. Senate to pass the bill, HR 5129, including the update to remove “charitable choice.”
If churches want to use taxpayer funds to help their communities, FFRF has a simple solution: They can create their own secular nonprofit following the same rules as any other 501(c)(3), including filing a Form 990 for transparency and following nondiscrimination provisions.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 37,000 members across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.