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Council adopts faith-based recommendations
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
March 02, 2010
2 MIN READ TIME

Council adopts faith-based recommendations

Council adopts faith-based recommendations
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service
March 02, 2010

WASHINGTON — After a year’s

work, a White House advisory council on faith-based programs adopted dozens of

recommendations Feb. 26 on everything from church-state separation to fighting

poverty and promoting fatherhood.

The 25-member advisory

council also called for reforms to the White House Office of Faith-based and

Neighborhood Partnerships to help protect “religious liberty rights.”

“The recommendations call

… for greater clarity in the church-state guidance given to social service

providers so that tax funds are used appropriately and providers are not

confused or sued,” the panel’s report said.

“The recommendations also

insist that beneficiaries must be notified of their religious liberty rights,

including their rights to alternative providers.”

The advisory panel, which

will submit its final report on March 9, also urged the Obama administration to

ensure that “decisions about government grants are made on the merits of

proposals, not on political or religious considerations.”

Among the panel’s 64

recommendations, advisers voiced support for:

  • developing interfaith

    service projects on 500 U.S. college campuses and in 40 U.S. cities

  • working to correct the “deeply

    flawed” ways the federal government measures poverty to better respond to the

    needy who aren’t currently eligible for social services

  • increased federal funding

    for programs to promote fatherhood, including among fathers in the military and

    in prison

  • limiting the Pentagon’s role

    in development work

  • providing guidance to state

    and local governments to help nonprofit groups “retrofit and green” their

    buildings.

The advisers reached consensus

on most recommendations but were divided over two contentious issues: whether

houses of worship that receive direct federal funding for social service

programs should form separate nonprofit corporations; and whether

federally-funded religious charities should remove religious art, symbols or

messages in facilities used to provide social services.