Mixed Reactions to Funding of Faith-Based Organizations

February 2, 2001

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune

On February 2, 2001, The San Diego Union-Tribune published an article by Jim VandeHei of The Wall Street Journal on President Bush's new faith-based initiative. "In many ways, these moves simply advance a trend, visible in both parties and on display in Bush's early days in office, toward a more open acknowledgment of the role religion plays in public life." VandeHei described the InnerChange program in Texas, which Bush sees "as a model of the sort of thing he would like to see spread across the country...It attempts to rehabilitate [prison inmates] with an intensive two-year indoctrination in biblical teachings and proper Christian behavior. Nearly 200 inmates, mostly drug dealers and thieves, are enrolled...In a state where nearly 40 percent of parolees return to prison within three years of their release, only two of InnerChange's 73 graduates are back behind bars." Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, "worries that program officials will discriminate against atheists and Jews, for instance, in the selection process...He also worries that government would be subsidizing a particular religion to convert followers with public funds. And some people worry that such programs actually could harm religious groups themselves" because the federal government is then likely to "become involved in the practice of religion."