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Southern Religion

Frank Page’s vote against accountability

Under the Bush administraion, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives was a political program. Rather than abolish the entire experiment, the Obama administration took office bent on constructive civil reform. Which, when dealing with slush funds, must include establishing fiscal accountability. Something former Southern Baptist Convention President Frank Page voted against.

Bruce Prescott got the goods on Page from the a report on the White House Web site. The report shows Page voted against requiring “houses of worship that wish to receive direct federal social service funds to establish separate corporations as a necessary means for achieving church-state separation and protecting religious autonomy, while also urging states to reduce any unnecessary administrative costs and burdens associated with attaining this status.”

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State wrote of this matter:

One year after Obama announced his version of the faith-based office, civil rights and civil liberties groups such as mine are still fighting Bush-era battles over tax funding to religious groups that proselytize, job discrimination on religious grounds in public programs and lack of accountability. It’s disheartening.

I am not a member of the president’s 25-member Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the body Obama formed one year ago to examine these issues. But I did serve on a task force offering the Council advice on a range of questions.

During our deliberations, I often found myself on the other side from conservative religious activists who resisted even the most benign and reasonable rules that would safeguard the rights of taxpayers and the disadvantaged as well as help preserve the constitutional separation of church and state.

. . .

Conservative religious representatives on the Council disagreed. They want sectarian groups to have access to plenty of government money with very little (if any) meaningful accountability. That’s the status quo; they like it.

Resistance to accountability by Page and others like him could provoke a consensus around the view that the entire program is, if not flatly unconstitutional, then unwise.

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February 14, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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