For Immediate Release
(Washington, DC, February 4, 2010) Today the American Humanist Association and several other civil rights, religious, education, labor and health organizations sent a letter to President Obama urging him to make good on his campaign promise to fix the Faith-Based Initiative by taking actions to “prevent government-funded religious discrimination and protect social service beneficiaries from unwelcome proselytizing.”
The letter comes a day before the one year anniversary of Obama’s Executive Order that established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Although the letter acknowledges that Obama’s Executive Order also established an Advisory Council to review and suggest fixes for the problems with the program–which Obama inherited from President Bush–it expresses disappointment that nearly every aspect of the Bush program remains in place. “The White House and all the federal agencies are still operating under all the inadequate rules and insufficient safeguards imposed by the previous Administration,” the letter reads.
“It’s high time the disastrous policies established by President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative and continued under President Obama’s Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership come to an end,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “In order to safeguard important civil rights protections, religious groups that accept government money need to play by the same rules as everyone else. And that means ensuring that taxpayer dollars don’t go towards religious discrimination or proselytizing.”
The letter outlines numerous steps President Obama needs to take in order to fix the program, such as prohibiting religious organizations from discriminating on the basis of religion in their hiring practices within federally-funded social welfare projects (including taking the step of reviewing and withdrawing an Office of Legal Counsel 2007 Memorandum interpreting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act); adopting the recommendations of the Reform of the Office of the Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnership Taskforce on which a consensus was reached; and amending existing Executive Orders, rules and regulations to ensure that the religious liberty rights of program beneficiaries are protected.
Click here to read the letter:
The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God.