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The White House ‘Faith-Based’ office

whitehouseThe Salvation Army is one of a number of faith-based and community organizations who have been invited by President George W. Bush to partner with the government in its Faith-Based and Community Initiatives program.

National Commander Commissioner John Busby joined 34 leaders from a wide variety of faith-based and civic groups at a meeting at the White House in January when Bush signed an executive order establishing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

“Amid the atmosphere of a robust economy, our greatest challenge is to continue to develop relevant programs and services that address the needs of our communities,” said Busby after the meeting. “The Salvation Army helped more than 33 million people last year. This record number of Americans received food, shelter, clothing, and disaster relief assistance.”

According to the Bush administration’s plan, churches, synagogues and mosques will help deliver $250 billion in federal social programs. There is a potential for corporate America and large foundations to become involved as well.

According to John Dilulio, the director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, the office hopes to correct a system that some say pays little attention to results while relying on secular nonprofit and for-profit groups to administer funding for illiteracy, drug addiction, homelessness and other programs. He stated that the administration would impose annual audits to ensure that funds did not continue to go to groups whose programs failed.

Plans call for harnessing the nation’s 350,000 religious congregations for a variety of services funded by expanding a provision of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that allows religious groups to compete for government contracts.

Elizabeth Seale has been named by Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Tommy G. Thompson as director of the department’s newly created Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. At the direction of President Bush, HHS created the center to establish a level playing field for all faith-based and community organizations applying for federal grants.

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