No Tax Dollars for Faith-Based Initiatives 2001 Action of Immediate Witness

For decades, the federal government has awarded grants and contracts to religious groups to provide social services. However, to protect their integrity and the interests of taxpayers, religious groups until now have created separate, secular entities to receive the public funds. In January, 2001, President George W. Bush established the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to promote “policies, priorities, and objectives for the Federal Government’s comprehensive effort to enlist, equip, enable, empower, and expand the work of faith-based and other community organizations to the extent permitted by law.”

This “Charitable Choice” proposal is currently pending in the United States Congress. This legislation would significantly expand existing law by allowing sectarian organizations to directly receive federal funding.

Inasmuch as Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and affirm religious freedom and the separation of church and state; and

Whereas the Bush Administration and many congressional leaders are advancing faith-based initiatives that would erode these cherished ideals, for example:

  • Taxpayer-funded Discrimination. Religious institutions are free under current law to discriminate—on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, pregnancy, and gender—when hiring and employing people with their own private funds. Under proposed provisions, religious organizations could discriminate using federal dollars.
  • Taxpayer-funded Proselytizing. Religious groups receiving federal funds could decide whom they would serve with those funds and what services would be given.
  • First Amendment Rights. Allowing sectarian institutions to substitute for the government as the providers of essential services could result in the very kind of religious coercion that the First Amendment Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution was designed to prevent.
  • Reproductive Freedom. Publicly-funded services that now offer information on a full range of reproductive and family planning options would be forced to compete for funding with faith-based organizations that offer partial information and services.
  • Sex Education. Religious groups would receive federal funds to provide sex education only if their programs are “abstinence-only” and exclude important topics such as contraception and safer sex.
  • Rights of Bisexual, Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender People. Federal money flowing to groups that justify oppression on religious grounds would increase the discrimination and repression that bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender people already experience.
  • Freedom of Religion. The federal initiatives would both undermine religious freedom and blur the appropriate boundary between religion and government. With federal money would come either federal oversight, that is, governmental regulation of religious organizations, or the dispensing of government funds without regulation or accountability, which would be poor stewardship of taxpayer dollars.

      Therefore, Be It Resolved that the 2001 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association urges its member congregations and individual Unitarian Universalists to:

    1. Immediately contact their Congressional Representatives to oppose the pending Faith-Based Initiatives legislation.
    2. Communicate their opposition to the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
    3. Network with other religious institutions and other concerned organizations to bring the issues and dangers of, and the alternatives to, Faith-Based Initiatives into focus for debate and effective opposition.
    Be It Further Resolved that the leadership of the Unitarian Universalist Association is encouraged to represent our opposition to the Congress, the federal administration, and other appropriate bodies and entities.