President Bush gave a remarkable speech today that was lost in the hubbub about Cardinal Law and the Scandal, but deserves mention. He signed an executive order that implements his planning for increasing the role of faith-based organizations in providing social services while allowing them to keep their religious character. Here&88217;s the heart of the order.
All federal agencies are to identify areas that faith-based groups can participate in receiving federal funds for programs. All qualifying groups are eligible to participate in such programs without regard to their religious character. The groups cannot use the funds to support inherently religious activities such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytizing or for the acquisition, construction, or rehabilitation of structures that are used mainly for religious activities, i.e. church buildings.
Religious groups that participate will retain their independence and be able to continue to carry out their mission provided they don’t use federal money for inherently religous activities. It specifies that the groups will not be required to remove religious art, icons, or symbols from their facilities and may continue to select employees and board members on a religious basis. It does say it cannot discriminate against beneficiaries of the programs on the basis of religious belief. It would also remove regulations that require they conduct their pgroams in a manner that is “free from religious influences.”
What the president said was that what makes faith-based groups so effective and efficient was their faith character and that should be preserved.
Now the big question is whether Catholic Charities will abandon its secular character and regain its Catholic one now the government will allow it to. Probably not since many of the people who actually work there don’t embrace the Church’s mission anyway. What do I mean? Read this to understand why I say Catholic Charities in Boston is no longer deserving of the name. Also see other stories here, here, here, here, here, and here