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Study: Religious Groups Got Federal Funds
June 11, 2002
By Rachel Donadio
Staff Reporter of the Sun
Despite the Bush Administration's claims that there are barriers preventing faithbased initiatives from receiving government funding, a significant number of faithbased welfaretowork programs do receive government funding and many of the ones that don't choose to turn it down, according to a study released yesterday by the Manhattan Institute.
Of 500 welfaretowork programs in Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Dallas that were surveyed, 120 were faithbased. Half of those 120 received government funding, including more than 40% of those that integrate religious elements into their programs, the study said.
Overall, 21% of faithbased programs were turned down for government funding, compared to 7% of secular programs, the study found. Yet it also found that 38% of faithbased groups had a "selfconscious policy" of not requesting government funding, compared to 19% of the secular programs.
In a press release, the Manhattan Institute said the study found that faithbased programs were "clearly discriminated against by the funding agencies in favor of their secular counterparts."
The professor who conducted the study for the Center for Research on Religion and Civil Society at the University of Pennsylvania, Stephen Monsma, said, "I try to be rather cautious in reaching a firm conclusion that this means there's discrimination" against faithbased groups, he told the Sun. Still, he noted that many of the faith-based groups have a policy against accepting government money.
"When you push them or ask them, many of them cite things like general government red tape," Mr. Monsma said. Others are "afraid that accepting it will interfere with their organization and how they are able to run it," he said.
"If they're feeling those kinds of pressures that in itself points toward some unfairness or discrimination," Mr. Monsma said.
Mr. Monsma said he was "encouraged" that "even those that do not receive government funds seem to be part of a network of welfare-towork providers." He added, "The majority of them would prefer that government agencies refer them clients."
The study found that the faith-based welfaretowork programs, which are significantly smaller than their secular counterparts, are eager to play a larger role in a sector dominated by government programs. It concluded that because faithbased welfaretowork programs do exist, the Bush Administration's faithbased initiative is "more of an extension and regularization of current practice than a sharp break from it."
Mr. Monsma said he thought that President Bush's faithbased initiatives "do make sense," especially their proposed use of intermediaries, where government funds would go to a larger faithbased group that would then subcontract with smaller ones.
The professor said he chose not to include New York City in the survey because of its "sheer size" and complexity. "Philadelphia seemed a little more manageable," he said. Yet he said that he "would have no reason to believe that New York would differ very much from the cities I did include."
©2002 New York Sun
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