Bookmark and Share
Printer Friendly
July 5, 2001

President Bush Celebrates America’s Independence by Threatening Religious Freedom

Listed in: Separation of Church and State, NJDC News, Press Releases

Washington, DC: President Bush ironically celebrated America's independence in Philadelphia yesterday by working to advance his program to provide government funding for an unprecedented array of faith-based programs. In his remarks, President Bush noted, "Religious liberty is more than the right to believe in God's love; it is the right to be an instrument of God's love. Such work is beyond the reach of government, and beyond the role of government."

"President Bush's comment that religious work is 'beyond the role of government' makes absolutely no sense, since he is clearly advocating direct government funding of churches and other houses of worship - thus undermining the American heritage of separating church and state," said Ira N. Forman, Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council. "Founding fathers such as Jefferson and Madison would be horrified to learn that at the dawn of the 21st century, a president of the United States would be trying to convince a reluctant Congress and a reluctant nation to funnel taxpayers' dollars to overtly religious programs and houses of worship.

"Of course the President is right to say that we must do more to help the disadvantaged in our society, but he is only paying lip service to this worthy goal when he proposes slicing the same pie of funding for social services into more and more paper-thin slices. If we're serious about helping the hungry and the homeless, then in addition to more charitable work and giving, reaching our goals will require a commitment of greater funding - plain and simple. And violating the conscience of taxpayers by using their money to fund houses of worship of other faiths runs counter to the very freedom that we celebrate on July 4th. On top of it all, Mr. President, there are constitutional ways for government to help religiously-affiliated social service providers, and this system works perfectly on a huge scale every day through such organizations as Catholic Charities, Lutheran Social Services and the Jewish Federation system. This system is not broken, and there is no reason to even consider a dangerous and unconstitutional 'fix.'"