First Freedom First: A Citizen's Guide to Protecting Religious Liberty and the Separation of Church and State

By C. Welton Gaddy; Barry W. Lynn | Go to book overview

Protecting Religion:
Integrity and Responsibility

As I mentioned earlier, several months ago I served on a panel convened for a congressional hearing to consider whether or not to assure perpetuation of President George W. Bush’s vision of faithbased initiatives. Two pieces of legislation had been proposed to make permanent the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, assuring its existence in succeeding administrations. My response to those proposals was a resounding “no” —no to the proposed legislation and no to the perpetuation of the office.

Just before I spoke to members of Congress, Rabbi David Saperstein had eloquently articulated that a negative response to the proposals was necessary to protect the United States Constitution. I affirmed my support for Rabbi Saperstein’s remarks before opposing the proposed legislation for a different reason. I said to committee chairman Mark Souder (R-IN), a compassionate man who strongly supports more assistance for the poorest, weakest, and most needy among us,

My opposition to this program resides in a profound concern
that the program, as presently configured, ultimately will hurt,
not help, both the religious community and the civil community
in their efforts to meet those needs and possibly impact ad-
versely the people in need as well…. I have many constitutional
concerns about this program … But I speak to you today prima-
rily focused not on what this program does to the Constitution

-65-

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