For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 23, 2004
Fact Sheet: Seeking Fair Treatment for Faith-Based and Community Charities
In his State of the Union Address, President Bush called on Congress to codify the principle of equal treatment for faith-based organizations in the Federal grants process, putting an end to discrimination against these charities. This legislation would ensure that more Americans in need would be able to get vital social services from the country's most effective charities, whether they are secular or faith-based organizations.
During his first week in office, President Bush directed the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) and faith-based offices in five Cabinet agencies to identify barriers that kept effective faith-based programs from serving Americans in need. OFBCI issued an August 2001 report, entitled "Unlevel Playing Field," detailing the barriers faced by these groups. In December 2002, the President issued an Executive Order directing agencies to take steps to ensure that all policies are consistent with the "equal treatment" principles enunciated in the Executive Order. In response to the President's Executive Order, Federal agencies have issued six final regulations and three proposed regulations, along with numerous other policy changes, to implement the equal treatment principles. As a result of these regulatory changes, faith-based organizations will be ensured equal treatment when they compete for approximately $10 billion in grant funds.
Many faith-based organizations that had been effective in serving the poor faced discrimination in their efforts to partner with the Federal government. The regulatory reforms instituted by President Bush have remedied some of these problems, but without the permanence of Federal statute, these reforms could be short-lived. These examples illustrate the need for Congress to enact "equal treatment" provisions and end discrimination in all programs against faith-based charities: