Catholic World News
President Obama outlines allowable religious practices for federally-funded organizations
November 18, 2010
President Barack Obama signed an executive order on November 17 outlining the allowable religious practices of faith-based social service organizations that receive federal funds. Such organizations will not be permitted to offer federally-funded social services in the same location in which “worship, religious instruction, or proselytization” takes place.
Among the key points in the executive order:
“Organizations, in providing services supported in whole or in part with Federal financial assistance, and in their outreach activities related to such services, should not be allowed to discriminate against current or prospective program beneficiaries on the basis of religion, a religious belief, a refusal to hold a religious belief, or a refusal to attend or participate in a religious practice.” “The Federal Government must implement Federal programs in accordance with the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as other applicable law, and must monitor and enforce standards regarding the relationship between religion and government in ways that avoid excessive entanglement between religious bodies and governmental entities.” “Organizations that engage in explicitly religious activities (including activities that involve overt religious content such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization) must perform such activities and offer such services outside of programs that are supported with direct Federal financial assistance (including through prime awards or sub-awards), separately in time or location from any such programs or services supported with direct Federal financial assistance, and participation in any such explicitly religious activities must be voluntary for the beneficiaries of the social service program supported with such Federal financial assistance.” “A faith-based organization that applies for, or participates in, a social service program supported with Federal financial assistance may retain its independence and may continue to carry out its mission, including the definition, development, practice, and expression of its religious beliefs, provided that it does not use direct Federal financial assistance that it receives (including through a prime award or sub-award) to support or engage in any explicitly religious activities (including activities that involve overt religious content such as worship, religious instruction, or proselytization), or in any other manner prohibited by law. Among other things, faith-based organizations that receive Federal financial assistance may use their facilities to provide social services supported with Federal financial assistance, without removing or altering religious art, icons, scriptures, or other symbols from these facilities. In addition, a faith-based organization that applies for, or participates in, a social service program supported with Federal financial assistance may retain religious terms in its name, select its board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in its organization's mission statements and other chartering or governing documents.” “If a beneficiary or prospective beneficiary of a social service program supported by Federal financial assistance objects to the religious character of an organization that provides services under the program, that organization shall, within a reasonable time after the date of the objection, refer the beneficiary to an alternative provider.”
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