White House: Faith-Based Groups Face Bias From Education Dept.
Religiously affiliated charities face unjustified hurdles in applying for grants from the Department of Education and four other Cabinet departments, the White House said in a report timed to help jump-start President Bush’s faith-based initiative.
The Aug. 16 report examined the treatment of faith-based organizations in five departments: Education, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Justice, and Labor. An executive order signed by the president in January created centers for faith-based and community initiatives in those departments, charging them with identifying barriers to participation in federal programs for religious and community organizations.
“There exists a widespread bias against faith- and community-based organizations in federal social service programs,” the report argues. The barriers include restrictions on applications for grants by some kinds of religious groups, limits on religious activities as a condition of receiving grants that go beyond what is required by the U.S. Constitution, and a bias toward established charitable groups that already have grant relationships with the government.
The report was released one day before John J. DiIulio Jr., the director of the White House office of faith-based and community initiatives, announced his resignation. Mr. DiIulio cited health problems and said he had planned to stay in the job for just six months.
‘Teacher Next Door’ Housing Program Resumes
The Department of Housing and Urban Development resumed operation of the federal “Teacher Next Door” and “Officer Next Door” programs in early August. The initiative, which provides reduced prices on HUD-owned homes to teachers and police officers, was suspended on April 1 after nine police officers were convicted of fraud and 15 more were indicted on fraud charges. No teachers were implicated. (“HUD Suspends Housing Program for Teachers,” April 11, 2001.)
In an effort to deter abuses, HUD officials will increase the number of visits to selected properties and have hired an outside agency to help monitor the program.