Magazine article Church & State

`Charitable Choice' Drive by Bush, Gore Is Misguided, Clergy Say

Magazine article Church & State

`Charitable Choice' Drive by Bush, Gore Is Misguided, Clergy Say

Article excerpt

A group of moderate religious leaders in Texas has criticized Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush for pushing "charitable choice" plans that would give taxpayer money to "faith-based" groups.

The Texas Faith Network, a collection of 400 religious leaders who oppose the Religious Right, said the Gore and Bush proposals threaten to undermine the separation of church and state.

"The concern that the Founding Fathers had about the separation of church and state was what the church might do to the state," the Rev. Charles Moore, pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Austin, told the Associated Press. "Charitable choice opens the door more than anything that I have seen in my lifetime to the church being able to take over the state and turn this nation into a theocracy."

Bush has proposed spending $8 billion annually to encourage "faith-based" groups to work on social issues. Gore has also called for giving tax money to religious groups through "charitable choice" schemes, provided they do not use it to proselytize.

The Texas religious leaders said the proposals are misguided. "Under charitable choice, a hungry person may find it necessary to submit to partisan prayer," said the Rev. Jim Rigby of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church in Austin. "Under charitable choice, a sick person may have to seek health care from a religion which believes in faith healing."

Rigby charged that charitable choice is the "latest in a long line of euphemisms meant to disguise the fact that we are dismantling the social safety net that was once called welfare. …

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