The Case against Charitable Choice
Matsui, Elena, Chuman, Joseph, The Humanist
Charitable choice was one of the issues of the 2000 elections upon which there was supposed agreement. Since Congress passed, and President Bill Clinton signed, the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. which includes a charitable choice provision, the concept is engraved in law. But is it really such a good idea?
Ethicist and church-state scholar Paul Simmons doesn't think so. He observes, "Those who advocate public support for clergy or religious enterprises have not come to terms with the corrupting and enervating effect of governmental protectionism. Efforts to protect lead to corruption and weakening of religion by the civil powers."
Marci A. Hamilton, professor of law at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law, also warns, "The next major church-state issue to become a source of conflict will likely be social service contracts based on the charitable choice provision of the welfare reform act. The potential constitutional problems have hardly been evaluated. When religion steps into the shoes of government, the civil rights of those receiving the funds become an issue. In order for the transmission of funds to be constitutional, the government will be required to place limits on how the funds are administered, including limitations on proselytization. Such limits, though, invite free exercise challenges from the churches. Government funding in any category implicating First Amendment values invites discord and litigation."
In the following two essays, written independently of each other, three humanists examine charitable choice and what it means for U.S. citizens. First, …
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Publication information: Article title: The Case against Charitable Choice. Contributors: Matsui, Elena - Author, Chuman, Joseph - Author. Magazine title: The Humanist. Volume: 61. Issue: 1 Publication date: January 2001. Page number: 31. © 1999 American Humanist Association. COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group.
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