July 26, 2005


Bush to Seek More Funding for Faith-Based Charities: He tells black leaders that he will pressure corporate foundations to adjust their policies. (Peter Wallsten, July 26, 2005, LA Times)

Embracing an old cause to open a new front in his outreach to African American church leaders, President Bush pledged Monday to pressure corporate foundations to give more money to faith-based charities.

Bush made that promise during a closed-door session at the White House with 17 black ministers and civic leaders — his second such meeting since January. [...]

The White House plans to sponsor a March summit that officials said would bring together corporate foundation leaders and faith-based social service organizations, many of which are affiliated with black churches.

Administration officials said they would focus attention on major foundations with policies limiting or forbidding donations to religious charities. Those include foundations run by Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., IBM Corp., Exxon Mobil Corp. and Citigroup, according to each foundation's website.

"I think we can all understand their reluctance, just as we see within government a reluctance to fund a faith-based organization because you don't want money to go to preaching or proselytizing," said Jim Towey, director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, who arranged Monday's meeting.

Towey noted that many faith-based groups had separate accounts — one for strictly religious activities and one for social services — so that "the corporate or foundation or government money can go to the social service itself" and not the religious component.

But, he added, "while we have removed barriers [on donations to faith-based groups] at the federal level, within corporate boardrooms and foundation boardrooms, there are still barriers in place."

The focus on corporate giving mirrors the administration's bid to increase government grants to religious social service agencies. That effort, which included opening faith-based offices in at least 10 agencies, including the Labor Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was credited last year with helping Bush make political inroads with black preachers in battleground states who, in turn, helped increase the president's share of the vote among African Americans.

Although Bush has had some success in redirecting government dollars and shifting the debate about the line between church and state, he may find corporations a harder sell. Companies are loath to risk alienating customers by wading into topics as emotional as religion.

They're even more afraid of being called racist.

Weiner Says He Would Increase Ties With Religious Groups (RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD, 7/26/05, NY Times)

Chastising Democrats for failing to build relationships with religious groups, Anthony D. Weiner, a Democratic candidate for mayor, said yesterday that if elected he would increase the role of "faith-based" organizations in providing city services.

Mr. Weiner said Democrats should unabashedly use the term closely associated with President Bush and Republicans in Congress, who he said had used the debate over religious values in government to divide the country.

"Instead of recoiling from this word simply because President Bush has co-opted it and bastardized the term, we should seize the opportunity when it presents itself," Mr. Weiner said at a speech at the Edgar M. Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at New York University.

Mr. Weiner, a congressman who represents parts of Brooklyn and Queens, including heavily Jewish areas, said he would push for several measures to tie the city more closely to religious groups, including one to create a "nonprofit czar" to coordinate the work of religious institutions and nonprofit organizations in combating poverty, drug abuse, hunger and homelessness.

Mr. Weiner advocated changes in zoning regulations and tax incentives to make housing more affordable for large families, singling out Orthodox Jews, an important constituency for his campaign, as an example.

He meant utilized, not bastardized.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 26, 2005 9:26 AM
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