Inside Philanthropy

A blog on philanthropy and nonprofit news and issues. A publication of Philanthropy Journal.

March 28, 2007

Bush’s faith funding belies his talk

President Bush says he is making progress on getting more federal dollars into the hands of religious social-service charities.

But Bush’s actions have not kept faith with his words.

As Associated Baptist Press reports, Bush this month told a White House conference for leaders of religious groups and community charities that the federal government gave nearly $2.1 billion in grants to religious charities in fiscal 2005, up 7 percent from the previous year.

At the conference, Bush said he wants to ensure a “level playing field” for religious charities.

But some religious leaders Bush initially enlisted to push his faith-based spending plan have criticized him for not putting his money where his mouth is, Associated Baptist Press also reports.

While Bush says publicly he wants to fund social services delivered by religious groups, these leaders say, he actually has reduced overall funding available to charitable groups by cutting discretionary spending for social services.

And a new study by the Roundtable on Religion and Social Welfare Policy finds that, while the share of funds that 99 federal grant programs gave to faith-based providers between 2002 and 2004 was flat compared to the share given to secular providers, the total amount of funding actually fell to $626 million in fiscal 2004 from $670 million in fiscal 2002, Associated Baptist Press reports.

If Bush truly wants to ensure the effective delivery of social services supported by government funds in a even-handed charitable marketplace, he should not be cutting those funds or giving religious charities an uneven advantage.


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