When a religion is good, I conceive it will support itself; and when it does not support itself, and God does not take care to support it so that its professors are obliged to call for help of the civil power, 'tis a sign, I apprehend, of its being a bad one.

                           Benjamin Franklin

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July 10, 2008

Coalition letter to candidates urges religious freedom, civil liberties protections in Faith-Based Initiative

Click here to read the full text of the letter to the candidates.

WASHINGTON - Members of a diverse coalition of religious and civil rights organizations have called on candidates John McCain and Barack Obama to formulate policies on the Faith-Based Initiative that protect and restore religious freedom and civil rights to partnerships between government and community and faith-based organizations.

More than 40 members of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination signed a letter criticizing the lack of proper accountability and constitutional safeguards in the Bush administration's Faith-Based Initiative that would protect the independence of religious organizations and protect the civil rights and religious liberty of employees and beneficiaries of government-funded programs.

"The next administration has the opportunity to restore the constitutionally required safeguards and civil rights protections that were in place for decades prior to the passage of the charitable choice statues and the creation of the Faith-Based Initiative," the letter states.

A major coalition criticism of the Faith-Based Initiative is that it allows religious organizations to take government funds and use those funds to discriminate in hiring a qualified individual based on nothing more than his or her religious beliefs. "The federal government should not subsidize workplace discrimination," the letter states.

K. Hollyn Hollman, general counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee, said the letter comes at an important time as the candidates are stating their intentions regarding the future of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. The BJC is a coalition leader and an outspoken critic of those policies pursued under the label "charitable choice" or "Faith-Based Initiatives" that would threaten religious freedom.

"The BJC, along with the Coalition Against Discrimination, has long-fought against policies that would jeopardize the religious freedom rights of social service providers and beneficiaries," Hollman said. "We're challenging the candidates to do right the right way."

Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
200 Maryland Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002
(202) 544-4226   bjc@BJConline.org

Americans for Religious Liberty - P.O.Box 6656 - Silver Spring, MD 20916
Telephone: 301-260-2988 - Fax: 301-260-2989 - Email: arlinc@verizon.net