Aug 14, 2001

Today's White House report on "barriers" faith-based groups face in obtaining federal grants is just the latest step in the Bush administration's drive to unconstitutionally fund religion with tax dollars, Americans United for Separation of Church and State has charged.

The White House report, titled "Unlevel Playing Field: Barriers to Faith-Based and Community Organizations' Participation in Federal Social Service Programs," was released this afternoon at the Brookings Institution. It insists that religious groups face up to 15 "barriers" when they seek federal funds from five federal agencies to provide social services.

The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said that the White House report misreads Supreme Court decisions on church and state and could lead to a lawsuit if it is recklessly implemented.

"If the Bush administration tries to change federal regulations and fund religion, we will immediately file suit in federal court," said AU's Lynn. "When Bush talks about removing 'barriers' to funding religion, it's clear he wants to bulldoze the wall that separates church and state. Taxpayers must never be forced to support religions they don't believe in."

Lynn speculated that the Bush administration may be pessimistic that its "faith-based" initiative cannot clear the Senate and it looking at regulatory changes as an alternative.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.