WASHINGTON – Today the White House unveiled highly anticipated plans to reform the way that federal agencies interact with faith-based contractors and sub-contractors. These plans grow out of recommendations on how to best protect the religious freedom of government service beneficiaries presented to the White House by Interfaith Alliance and a number of other faith-based organizations and religious freedom advocates. Today’s announcement opens a sixty day comment period during which Interfaith Alliance will review the proposed changes and work to ensure that vigorous protection of religious freedom when the government contracts with religious organizations. Following this announcement, Rabbi Jack Moline issued this statement:
“During President Obama’s first campaign he vowed to ensure that federal funds were not used to proselytize or discriminate based on religious beliefs. Today’s announcement is significant progress toward making good on that promise. These reforms ensure that people receiving services from religious providers know about their rights; they provide important recourse for individuals preferring to be served by a secular organization. Most importantly they set clear guidelines requiring organizations to formally separate their explicitly religious activities from their federally funded work – surely the only way the government can give money to a religious entity and maintain the spirit of the First Amendment.
“I applaud The White House, under the tireless leadership of Melissa Rogers, for this important step forward. However, there is still much to do to make sure that federal funding of religious institutions respects the Constitution. We continue to be frustrated by the administration’s refusal to overturn the Office of Legal Counsel memo that allows religious organizations who contract with the government to opt out of important regulations and nondiscrimination policies. We look forward to continuing to work with the White House and people of faith from across the religious and political spectrum to ensure that the religious freedom of every individual is protected when they step in line for a government service.”
Interfaith Alliance celebrates religious freedom by championing individual rights, promoting policies that protect both religion and democracy, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism. Founded in 1994, Interfaith Alliance brings together members from 75 faith traditions as well as those without a faith tradition to protect faith and freedom. For more information visit www.interfaithalliance.org.