Sunday, January 14, 2007

BJC, politics and "faith-based" initiatives

The following was found after about thirty seconds of "Googling" "Baptist Joint Committee" and "Americans United." It is a pretty good indication of the types of alliances the BJC joins on Establishment clause issues [on "free exercise" issues, the list would less ideological, and more acceptable, at least to me]. The list includes most of those one would expect in an explicitly liberal political alliance in Washington. The story is from 2001, but the example isn't isolated - I would invite anyone to do a similar search. It has been suggested that calling attention to such alliances is "guilt by association." However, the association was voluntary and not invented by opponents of the BJC. Of course, agreement on one issue doesn't imply agreement on everything - but it does mean agreement on that issue, and, when it happens again and again, it is fair to draw an inference.
WASHINGTON - April 11 - A broad coalition of religious, education, labor, civil liberties and health advocacy groups today urged the U.S. House to reject a bill that directs tax aid to houses of worship to provide social services. Two dozen groups representing millions of Americans said the "charitable choice" provisions of the Watts-Hall "Community Solutions Act" (H.R. 7) must be rejected. The provisions, which reflect the Bush administration's "faith-based" initiative, allow religious groups to get government funds without the church-state safeguards that have been in effect in the past. In a letter to House members, the groups said, "'Charitable choice' is an unconstitutional and dangerous proposal that will harm religion, authorize government-funded discrimination, undermine the accountability of taxpayer dollars, foster litigation against state and local governments and violate the personal rights of Americans seeking help."

Among the groups signing the letter is Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the group spearheading opposition to the Bush initiative. "Opposition to Bush's faith-based fiasco is building steadily," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "Until the plan is brought into line with the Constitution, Congress has a responsibility to reject it." In addition to American United, other groups signing the letter include: American Association of School Administrators, American Association of University Women, American Federation of Teachers, American Humanist Association, American Jewish Committee, Americans for Religious Liberty, Association of Federal, State, County and Municipal Employees, Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs, Catholics for a Free Choice, Friends Committee on National Legislation (Quakers), Hadassah, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, National Association of Social Workers, National Council of Jewish Women, National Education Association, NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, OMB Watch, People for the American Way, Service Employees International Union, The Interfaith Alliance, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Unitarian Universalist Association and Women of Reform Judaism. [emphasis added]
Source: Americans United for Separation of Church and State

The news release was posted on a "progressive" [read liberal] website by Americans United. The bill they were opposing back in those early days of the Bush administration, was co-sponsored by a Republican from Oklahoma and a Democrat from Ohio.

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