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Poll On Bush's Faith-based Initiative (04-11-01)

A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski

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In The New York Times On April 11, 2001, Laurie Goodstein reported the results of the most extensive poll to date measuring public response to President Bush's faith-based initiative to make more government funds available to religious social services. The survey of 2,041 adults was conducted from March 5 through 18 by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life and the Pew Research Center for People and the Press.  Here's a summary of the findings:

1.         Americans approve of giving government money to religious groups that provide social services but only if the groups getting the money are either Christian or Jewish and do not proselytize to the poor or use religious guidelines in deciding whom to hire, 

2.         75% favored "government funding of faith-based organizations," an increase since September, when 67 percent were in favor. 

3.         75% believed that churches and other houses of worship contributed to solving social problems.

4.         78% opposed funding religious groups if they only hired people of the same faith. (Permitting religiously based programs to hire and fire their staffs using religious criteria is a key part of Mr. Bush's initiative. And it is already permissible under law, having passed in 1996 as part of the Charitable Choice provision in the welfare reform legislation.)

5.         Majorities of those surveyed were opposed to giving government money to unfamiliar, non-Western or new religions.

-  62% opposed government funding for Muslim mosques, 

-  62% opposed government funding for Buddhist temples

-  71% opposed government funding for the Nation of Islam's

- 74% opposed government funding for the Church of Scientology

-  48% opposed government funding for Evangelical Churches

-  49%  opposed government funding for the Mormon churches.

6.         60% were concerned that religious social-service programs would force the people they serve to participate in religious practices. 

7.         68% were concerned that government would interfere with religious groups that accepted government money.

President Bush has said:

1.         His proposal is open to all faiths and funding would be awarded to social service programs on the basis of proven results, not creed.

2.         Religious programs will not be required to omit their religious components and teachings to receive government money. 

3.         Faith-based Programs would be exempt from any employment law preventing them from hiring members of their own faith.

<Review Gorski's Position On Faith-based Programs>

Mr. Gorski is available to speak or consult on the issue of Faith-based Addiction Programs
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