Mixed signals – Core features on hold

Controversy over President Bush’s plan to boost federal support for charities that deliver social services is prompting uncertainty about its future.

Senate backers of the plan are poised to introduce legislation that leaves out the key Bush proposal to let religious groups compete for government funds without separating themselves from religion, the Associated Press reported March 14.

Bush and the director of the White House office overseeing the faith-based initiative said the strategy is on track, despite growing criticism, Reuters reported March 12 and The New York Times reported March 14.

In the face of controversy over the bill, a new study says half of U.S. religious congregations are growing and most are thriving, especially those that embrace contemporary worship and social outreach, the Associated Press reported March 13.

“Worship is at the core of growth and financial stability in America,” said Carl Dudley, who co-directed the study by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research in Connecticut.

The study, conducted over five years with support from the Lilly Endowment and faith groups, is billed as the broadest survey of its kind ever in the U.S.

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