As Bush Pushes Faith- Based Initiatives, Concerns Over Church and State

December 2, 2003

Source: The Boston Globe

On December 2, 2003 The Boston Globe reported, "Through executive orders, an aggressive wooing of religious groups, and his unflagging commitment to use the bully pulpit, President Bush has bypassed a reluctant Congress and is fulfilling his inaugural promise to bridge the historic separation of church and state and make his administration the most faith-friendly in memory. The effort, carried out by Bush's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and branches in seven federal agencies, is starting to bear fruit as it encourages religious groups to compete for public funds and directs millions of dollars in social-service grants to ministries and houses of worship, which can retain their religious identity and sidestep federal civil rights laws that bar discrimination in hiring... 'They set out to make certain changes that were very controversial, and they are doing that,' said Rogers, professor of religion and public policy at the Divinity School at Wake Forest University. 'It's creating a lot of concern that they have gone too far in leveling the playing field and are undoing some healthy church-state rules that protect both religion and the government and its citizens.' As he campaigns for reelection, Bush hopes to energize his important base of evangelical Christian voters by citing the faith-based initiative as a domestic-policy accomplishment and to convince African-Americans, who gave him only 8 percent of their vote in 2000, that his administration's outreach to inner-city churches proves he is a compassionate conservative, said a White House official who asked not to be named."