U.S./world – Faith on hold – Goverment role feared

President Bush is reworking parts of his plan to put more federal dollars in the hands of religious charities, The Washington Post reported March 12.

The delay is designed to ease unexpectedly sharp fears among religious conservatives that churches would be tainted by government rules or that sects outside the mainstream would get federal support, the Post said.

Quick action is expected on some parts of Bush’s plan, the Post said, including expanding the charitable tax decision to those who don’t itemize; letting states use surplus welfare funds to push a new tax credit for charitable donations; installing Bush adviser Stephen Goldsmith as head of the AmeriCorps national service program to expand it and recruit more religious volunteers; and reducing rules that limit religious charities.

The main controversy involves Bush’s proposal to expand a 1996 law passed as part of welfare reform so it makes funds available to more religious charities.

In a big blow, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who had backed Bush’s plan, said the administration should postpone it until figuring out how to avoid violating civil rights.

Bush also has deepened the split with religious conservatives. John DiIulio, who heads the Bush initiative, last week criticized “predominantly white, exurban evangelical” leaders for their lack of interest in urban problems.

For full story, go to The Washington Post.

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