U.S./world – Faith fight – Hearings scheduled

With hearings set for later this month, battle lines are being drawn over President Bush’s plan to boost religious charities in delivering social services, The New York Times reported April 12.

Labor unions have vowed to fight the plan, joining a coalition of religious and civil rights groups and educational organizations.

The Coalition Against Religious Discrimination includes the American Association of University Women, the American Federation of Teachers, the Service Employees International Union and the National Education Association.

“We are going to fight this very hard,” said Charles M. Loveless, director of legislation for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

At the same time, conservatives are closing ranks behind Bush after some leading Christian conservatives complained the plan would funnel tax dollars to fringe groups.

But John J. DiIulio, who heads the Bush initiative, shook conservative leaders’ hands on Wednesday and accepted a statement endorsing the plan that was signed by representatives of three dozen groups forming a new Coalition for Compassion, the Times said.

The signers, who were not among the plan’s toughest critics, included the National Association of Evangelicals, American Conservative Union, Eagle Forum and Marvin Olasky, editor of the evangelical World magazine.

If adopted, the Bush plan “will change the last 30 years of religion being kicked out of the public square,” said Gary Bauer, a former presidential candidate and president of the conservative group American Values.

For full story, go to The New York Times.

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