President’s Faith-Based Initiatives Council Recommends Houses of Worship Be Required to Form Independent Corporations

Secular Coalition for America Praises Advisory Council’s Vote

The President’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has voted to recommend to the president that houses of worship receiving federal funds for social services be required to form separate, independent corporations, in order to curtail religious discrimination and maintain the separation between church and state.

“We’re extremely pleased that the President’s Advisory Council saw the need to draw a clear line between the sectarian activities of houses of worship and their publicly-funded humanitarian efforts,” said Secular Coalition for America Executive Director Sean Faircloth. “President Obama promised the country that he would make certain that taxpayer dollars would never be used for proselytizing or fund organizations that discriminate in hiring for their social services based on religion. We hope very much that he will honor America’s founding principles and heed the wisdom of his Advisory Council in this matter.”

The President’s Advisory Council voted 13-12 to recommend that the president require houses of worship that receive federal funding for social services through the Faith-Based Initiatives and Neighborhood Partnerships program 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.”

On July 1, 2008, President Obama, then a candidate for president, declared that houses of worship receiving tax dollars under his administration “can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs.”

Said Faircloth, "The president should adhere to his own stated principles, and guarantee that organizations receiving federal funding can only use those funds for explicitly secular purposes, and can never discriminate against anyone because of their religious beliefs."

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The Secular Coalition for America advocates for the separation of church and state, and the greater acceptance and inclusion of non-theistic Americans.

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