Harman Patil (Editor)

Charitable choice

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Charitable choice refers to direct United States government funding of religious organizations to provide social services. Created in 1996, charitable choice allows government officials to purchase services from religious providers using Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Welfare-to-Work, and Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) funds. In late 2000, charitable choice was included in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) block grant.

Contents

Principles

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Charitable Choice rests on four major principles:

A Level Playing Field

Faith-based providers are eligible to provide federally-funded social services on the same basis as any other providers, neither excluded nor included because they are religious, too religious or of a different religion.

Respect for Allies

The religious character of faith-based providers is protected by allowing them to retain control over the definition, development, practice, and expression of their religious beliefs. Neither federal nor state government can require a religious provider to alter its form of internal governance or remove religious art, icons, scripture or other symbols in order to be a program participant.

Protecting Clients

In regard to rendering assistance, religious organization shall not discriminate against an individual on the basis of religion, a religious belief, or refusal to actively participate in a religious practice. If an individual objects to the religious character of a program, a secular alternative must be provided.

Church-State Separation

All government funds must be used to fulfill the public social service goals, and no direct government funding can be diverted to inherently religious activities such as worship, sectarian instruction, and proselytization.

Controversy

Some are concerned that charitable choice blurs the separation of church and state and argue that federal financial support of faith-based organizations creates an opportunity for abuse and a potential for funds to flow in a biased way towards groups affiliated with one particular denomination or religious tradition. In addition, some religious organization such as the Interfaith Alliance are concerned about the impact of charitable choice "on the vitality of the prophetic voice of faith, the integrity of religious autonomy, excessive government entanglement in the affairs of religious institutions and the overarching temptation to abuse religion and manipulate faith to achieve political power."

References

Charitable choice Wikipedia


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