'faith-based' Controversy Expected In U.s. Senate Soon

Senate Committee Approves Modified Version Of Bush 'Faith-Based' Initiative

The Senate Finance Committee has approved a sharply modified version of President George W. Bush's "faith-based" initiative, and observers are expecting debate on the Senate floor soon.

 

On Feb. 5, the Finance Committee approved the tax section of the CARE Act that encourages donations to religious and other charities. Costing an estimated $12.7 billion over 10 years, the measure would give various tax breaks to donors, including allowing taxpayers who do not itemize to write off some of their charitable donations.

 

Advocates of church-state separation were pleased that the bill did not include controversial provisions that would give religion privileged treatment and violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

 

"This bill shows that Congress can assist charities without knocking down the wall of separation between church and state," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the organization that has spearheaded opposition to the "faith-based" initiative.

 

Lynn warned, however, that the issue is far from settled.

 

"Some senators are hoping to change this bill when it comes to the floor to give favored treatment to religion," Lynn continued. "We will be watching closely to make sure this doesn't happen."

 

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C.  Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.