Saperstein: We have been deeply concerned by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives’ detrimental effects on both religion and government since its inception.
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Washington D.C. July 11, 2008 - The Union for Reform Judaism this week joined with members of the Coalition Against Religious Discrimination (CARD) to send a letter to the presumptive Democratic and Republican presidential nominees concerning the future of the Faith Based Initiative. Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:
“The religious community and the federal government have complementary roles in efforts to support Americans in need. Yet we have been deeply concerned by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives’ detrimental effects on both religion and government since its inception.
Though we are by no means convinced that continuation of the Faith Based Initiative is sound public policy, any such Initiative must uphold constitutional principles and First Amendment rights. The current Faith-Based Initiative serves as a governmental endorsement of religion. Despite rules to the contrary, it results in infringements on the religious rights of people in need, coercing them to participate in religious activities in exchange for services, as even some of its key proponents acknowledge.
The separation of church and state has been the chief guarantor of religious liberty for Jewish Americans and other religious minorities in this country. The future of the Faith-Based Initiative will be a critical issue for the next president, and we are pleased it is a topic of discussion in the 2008 campaign.”