Bush should broaden charity focus

By Todd Cohen

Building on his effort to give religious charities more federal funds, President Bush wants foundations and corporations to increase their funding to faith-based groups.

At a White House conference, Bush said his administration has made it easier for religious charities to compete for federal funds, but that many foundations, corporations, and state and local governments still restrict funding for faith-based groups.

Bush should move beyond his push to increase public and private funding for religious charities.

While faith-based groups might deliver critical social services effectively, they also might sidestep federal rules requiring an even hand in deciding who to hire and serve, and might push their faith on people who need social services but do not want faith pushed on them.

Because Bush’s proposed budget cuts in social services and programs for the poor have sparked sharp criticism from some religious leaders, his call for greater private funding for faith-based charity looks like pandering to critics while asking the private sector to care for vulnerable populations that government chooses to ignore.

Instead of championing only religious charities, Bush can prove his faith in charitable social services by pushing for greater and more flexible public and private investment in all charities.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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