Church-State Lines Not Always Drawn in Faith Based Initiatives, Review Finds

July 24, 2006

Source: Religion News Service

On July 24, 2006 Religion News Service reported, "An examination of the White House's faith-based initiative has found that some organizations are not separating religious activities from federally funded services. At the request of two members of Congress, the U.S. General Accountability Office spent more than a year conducting a review of federal and state agencies related to the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives. The GAO also investigated religious groups that have received government grants. The report, released Tuesday (July 18), said officials at 26 faith-based organizations that were visited by investigators said they understood that government funds could not pay for religious activities. But reviewers found 'four of the 13 FBOS (faith-based organizations) that offered voluntary religious activities -- such as prayer and worship -- did not appear to understand the requirement to separate these activities in time or location from their program services funded with federal funds.' One faith-based worker told investigators that she discusses religious matters while providing a service funded by the government if a participant asks and others don't object. In a few cases, staffers at faith-based groups said they prayed with program beneficiaries if they requested it. Alyssa J. McClenning, a spokeswoman for the White House faith-based office, said efforts are made to prevent such situations."