Faith and politics

A national philanthropy watchdog group is asking the nonprofit sector to speak out against what it calls the dangers of President Bush’s faith-based agenda.

The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, based in Washington, D.C., is asking nonprofits to fight the administration’s plans, which the committee says drastically cut funding for social services while increasing government and charitable spending to religious groups.

The administration’s goal, the committee says, is to court the group of voters Republicans need to maintain power in the federal government.

The committee points to the Republican Poverty Alleviation Agenda, the goal of which it says is boosting the role of faith-based nonprofits as service providers, and the Job Training Improvement Act of 2005, which the committee says will exempt religious groups from adhering to anti-discrimination policies.

The committee also criticizes the Houses of Worship Free Speech Restoration Act of 2005, which it says would allow churches to retain tax-exempt status even if engaging in electioneering activities.

“It’s time for the nonprofit leadership to step up to the plate and call this agenda for what it is — assaults on fundamental civil rights protections in federal programs and a manipulation of cash-strapped nonprofit service providers to go along with the administration if they want to maintain their foothold on the ever-shrinking pot of government funding,” Rick Cohen, the committee’s executive director, says in a statement.

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