Nation's Largest Jewish Organization Attacks Bush on "Charitable Choice" Proposals
Pelavin: "While we certainly share his view that religious social service providers can and do help those in need, we are wary of mobilizing armies — even those of compassion — to lay siege to the wall of separation between church and state."
Contact: Jeff Mandell, (202) 387-2800
WASHINGTON, July 22, 1999 - In response to Governor George W. Bush's policy announcement today, in which he promised that he would, in his first year in office, dedicate eight billion dollars to government funding of religious social service organizations, Mark J. Pelavin, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center, released the following statement:
Again, today, we saw a prominent presidential candidate speak in favor of "charitable choice." Governor Bush spoke today, as he has spoken before, of the "armies of compassion" he sees transforming their religious convictions into action with government assistance. While we certainly share his view that religious social service providers can and do help those in need, we are wary of mobilizing armies — even those of compassion — to lay siege to the wall of separation between church and state.
This is not an issue of partisanship, but one of clear constitutionality. The proposals that Governor Bush made today — similar to proposals made in May by Vice President Gore — unacceptably chip away at the wall of separation between church and state mandated by America's fundamental document. That wall of separation, ingeniously conceived by our nation's founders, has allowed religion to flourish in America as it has no where else. While government funding of religious social service providers, or "charitable choice," may appear to benefit religious organizations, the erosion of our constitutional safeguards is dangerous for everyone involved, including those religious organizations funded.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, representing 1.5 million Reform Jews and 1,800 Reform rabbis in 875 congregations throughout North America.