Leaders Reach 'Common Ground' Inspired by September 11

January 16, 2002

Source: The Boston Globe

On January 16, 2002, The Boston Globe reported that "religious and civil rights leaders who battled each other over President Bush's faith-based initiative in 2001 said yesterday they had reached consensus on a number of ways government and the private sector could aid religious charities without violating the US Constitution's separation of church and state... The 33-person group, with members ranging across the political spectrum from the American Civil Liberties Union to Evangelicals for Social Action, agreed that government agencies should not discriminate against religious charities eligible for federal social-service contracts and called for new individual and corporate tax incentives to spur charitable giving... Former Senator Harris Wofford, a Pennsylvania Democrat who convened the working group in June, said he had not expected that a consensus could be reached by people whose opinions were so strong and often at odds. But the tragedy of Sept. 11 made them determined to find common ground and increase the capacity of religious groups to help the needy... The group's report and 29 recommendations, under the title 'Finding Common Ground,' gave a boost to White House prospects for passage of a scaled-down version of its faith-based initiative in Congress this year. White House spokeswoman Anne Womack said the bill was a priority for the president and predicted it would be introduced in the Senate within weeks."e